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

Thanks to Richard Rasker, a regular commentator on this blog, I learnt a new word – a word that I intend to use regularly from now on:

proctophasia

You won’t find the term in the dictionary, and even the most decorated specialist might not (yet?) be familiar with it. Proktophasia afflicts predominantly the most ardent evangelists amongst the proponents of so-called alternative medicine (SCAM), COVID-deniers, and anti-vaxxers. And this is, of course, the reason why the affliction surfaces regularly on this blog, and why Richard was able to recognize it and give it its proper terminology.

The symptoms of proctophasia are easily remembered, once we know that this medical term is derived from ‘speaking out of one’s arse’, a less than polite term for talking utter rubbish. Accordingly, proctophasia shows itself in the following manner:

  • talking rubbish,
  • talking rubbish,
  • talking rubbish,
  • talking rubbish,
  • talking rubbish,
  • talking rubbish,
  • talking rubbish,
  • talking rubbish,
  • talking rubbish even after being corrected,
  • repeating one’s own stupid arguments ad nauseam,
  • repeating one’s own stupid arguments ad nauseam,
  • repeating one’s own stupid arguments ad nauseam,
  • repeating one’s own stupid arguments ad nauseam,
  • repeating one’s own stupid arguments ad nauseam,
  • being offended when, eventually, someone arrives at the correct diagnosis of ‘speaking out of one’s arse’,
  • being nevertheless undeterred and repeating one’s own stupid arguments ad nauseam.

As such, the diagnosis is not all that difficult to make. The crucial question, however, is this:

can proctophasia be treated successfully? 

It does seem unlikely that any form of SCAM is effective in the management of proctophasia. Formal trials have, as far as I know, not been conducted. Yet, we can assume from the fact that the proctophasia victims who made themselves known in the comments sections of this blog are on multiple SCAM treatments, and their condition does not seem to improve noticeably. On the contrary, one could even speculate that SCAM is the cause of the disease (but, of course, this hypothesis would need to be tested before we should accept it as fact).

Until there is a cure, what can be done?

I am afraid not much. In the past, I have had to ban some particularly seriously afflicted individuals. No doubt, I will have to take such drastic measures again in the future. But I always do that with a heavy heart.

Why?

Because one feature of the typical proctophasia victim has not yet been mentioned. These people can be hilariously funny – more so than any stand-up comedian. And that is the reason why I will continue to be as patient with them as I possibly can. In other words, proctophasia significantly increases the entertainment value of this blog.

Thanks, guys!

 

9 Responses to Proctophasia: a nasty affliction of many proponents of so-called alternative medicine

  • Yep, anti-homeopath pseudo-skeptic Rasker is truly an expert in this.

    • yes, for a person afflicted by proctophasia, it would seem such.

    • @Wil

      … pseudo-skeptic Rasker …

      What a strange thing to say … Do you mean that I am not a real sceptic, and that I’m secretly a big fan of alternative medicine?

      • pseudoskeptic refers to those who would not be convinced by any evidence

        In science, the burden of proof falls upon the claimant; and the more extraordinary a claim, the heavier is the burden of proof demanded. The true skeptic takes an agnostic position, one that says the claim is not proved rather than disproved. He asserts that the claimant has not borne the burden of proof and that science must continue to build its cognitive map of reality without incorporating the extraordinary claim as a new “fact.” Since the true skeptic does not assert a claim, he has no burden to prove anything. He just goes on using the established theories of “conventional science” as usual. But if a critic asserts that there is evidence for disproof, that he has a negative hypothesis—saying, for instance, that a seeming psi result was actually due to an artifact—he is making a claim and therefore also has to bear a burden of proof…
        Both critics and proponents need to learn to think of adjudication in science as more like that found in the law courts, imperfect and with varying degrees of proof and evidence. Absolute truth, like absolute justice, is seldom obtainable. We can only do our best to approximate them.
        —Marcello Truzzi, “On Pseudo-Skepticism”, Zetetic Scholar, 12/13, pp3-4, 1987[5]

        Truzzi gave the following characteristics of pseudoskeptics, as he described them:

        denying when only doubt has been established
        double standards in the application of criticism
        the tendency to discredit rather than investigate
        presenting insufficient evidence or proof
        assuming criticism requires no burden of proof
        making unsubstantiated counter-claims
        making counter-claims based on plausibility rather than empirical evidence
        suggesting that unconvincing evidence provides grounds for completely dismissing a claim

        https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Pseudoskepticism

        • The true skeptic takes an agnostic position, one that says the claim is not proved rather than disproved.

          Technically correct, since 1. disproving something means doing some work, and 2. all scientific knowledge is provisional.

          However, the null hypothesis says that ALL hypotheses must be assumed to be false until and unless proved otherwise [1]. Indeed, it cannot be any other way: it is logically impossible for all possible hypotheses to be true [2].

          The veracity of a scientific explanation is rated in probabilities: high probability of wrong (i.e. all high-quality evidence confirms the null hypothesis) = a layperson’s concept of “false”; high probability of not-wrong (i.e. all high-quality evidence fails to confirm the null hypothesis) = a layperson’s concept of “true”. Talk about two cultures separated by a common language!

          But, understanding this is important. In science, everything is greys. No black and white; just infinite shades everywhere.

          Alties aren’t good at greys. What alties like is black or white.

          So what alties do is cherry-pick and special plead. They declare that while it’s okay for everyone else’s hypotheses to be false until proven true, their pet hypothesis should be treated as true until proven false, just because.

          Science very cautiously couches all of its own proclamations in caveats and doubt, because science understands that all of its proclamations are subject to correction/refutation as and when more and better evidence comes along.

          Alties wilfully and/or ignorantly misinterpret that excruciating caution to mean that the scientific process and the knowledge acquired by that process are weak, hesitant, and unconvincing; and so conclude from their own absolute unshakeable certainty that their own absolute unshakeable certainty is by far the superior.

          Scientists laugh at such hubristic naivety and robustly point out that Alties are prize mugs for believing this. Alties get mad at this, because their egos are built on their beliefs; thus any challenge to their belief is an attack on their person. But until Alties learn to disconnect their egos from their beliefs, and regard their own claims as dispassionately disposable as they regard everyone else’s, their beliefs can never amount to anything more than religious opinions. Which, much like assholes, are ubiquitous and full of it.

          Truzzi gave the following characteristics of pseudoskeptics

          Let me propose a working condensation:

          A pseudoskepic is someone who is far more interested in disproving other people’s hypotheses than in disproving his own.

          I leave it to you to determine if that sounds vaguely familiar.

          [1] That’s “proved” in the lay sense, i.e. robustly scientifically tested and found “very probably not completely wrong”.

          [2] i.e. For any two mutually contradictory hypotheses, at least one of them must be false.

  • Reminds of the greek term “Coprolalia” which literally means “Excrement speach”.
    It is however used in psychiatry to denote a very specific aspect of a mental disorder. So let’s not dishonor those afflicted by that terrible condition by honoring SCAM-ists with such a fine word, however telling it may be.

  • It is a somewhat more serious affliction when the sufferer is the prime minister and only appoints people who agree to agree with him into office.

  • Is there a homeopathic remedy for being an altie? Perhaps wormwood 1X? That would taste bad, even in little sugar balls.

  • one feature of the typical proctophasia victim has not yet been mentioned. These people can be hilariously funny – more so than any stand-up comedian.

    To me it’s annoying rather than funny, because posting facts and citations to correct mistakes that a sensible person wouldn’t make is onerous and a waste of one’s time.

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