Following on from my recent post about chiropractic denial, I feel like elaborating a little on an argument that is regularly used by those who try to defend the indefensible:


The notion is extremely popular not just with chiropractors but with virtually all practitioners of so-called alternative medicine (SCAM).

  • Discuss with a chiropractor the merits of chiropractic, and she will soon ask you for your qualifications in the subject. If you are not a qualified chiropractor, she will say something like: sorry, but you are not qualified to discuss this because chiropractic is a complex subject that requires a lot of study to fully understand.
  • Discuss with a homeopath the merits of homeopathy, and she will soon ask you for your qualifications in the subject. If you are not a qualified homeopath, she will say something like: sorry, but you are not qualified to discuss this because homeopathy is a complex subject that requires a lot of study to fully understand.
  • Discuss with a energy healer the merits of energy healing, and she will soon ask you for your qualifications in the subject. If you are not a qualified energy healer, she will say something like: sorry, but you are not qualified to discuss this because energy healing is a complex subject that requires a lot of study to fully understand.
  • Discuss with a osteopath the merits of osteopathy, and she will soon ask you for your qualifications in the subject. If you are not a qualified osteopath, she will say something like: sorry, but you are not qualified to discuss this because osteopathy is a complex subject that requires a lot of study to fully understand.
  • Discuss with a acupuncturist the merits of acupuncture, and she will soon ask you for your qualifications in the subject. If you are not a qualified acupuncturist, she will say something like: sorry, but you are not qualified to discuss this because acupuncture is a complex subject that requires a lot of study to fully understand.
  • etc. I’m sure you get the drift.

The first question to ask oneself here is this: what are these SCAM qualifications? Once you look into it, you might find – depending on national differences – that they consist of a series of courses that are more akin to brain-washing than to proper study. In other words, the arrogant pretence of SCAM practitioners to have more knowledge than the opponent is nil and void. What they do have is mostly pseudo-knowledge aquired during the brain-wash they assumed to be study.

But this is not what I wanted to explore today. I am more interested in another aspect of the ‘YOU ARE NOT COMPETENT TO CRITICIZE’ argument.

It has the effect that, from the persective of the SCAM practitioner, criticism voiced by people who are not experts in the SCAM in question can be dismissed. These people are simply not competent to criticize!

Consequently, criticism can only be considered, if it originates from someone who is an accepted expert in the SCAM. This means that:

  • Only a well-versed chiropractor can legitimately criticize chiropractic.
  • Only a well-versed homeopath can legitimately criticize homeopathy.
  • Only a well-versed energy healer can legitimately criticize energy healing.
  • Only a well-versed osteopath can legitimately criticize osteopathy.
  • Only a well-versed acupuncturist can legitimately criticize acupuncture.
  • etc. I’m sure you get the drift.

To perfect this culture of avoiding criticism, a final step is essential: a definition of what constitutes a ‘well-versed’ practitioner. A ‘well-versed’ SCAM practitioner is someone who is fully trained and understands and subscribes to the assumptions on which the SCAM in question is based. ‘Fully trained’ means, of course, that he/she went through the process of brain washing where the dogmas of the SCAM in question are internalized.

Should someone disagree with them (i.e. begin to criticize the SCAM) he/she is thus easily identified as being a heritic who is insufficiently ‘well-versed’ and incompetent to criticize. Consequently his/her criticism can be declared as invalid and can be ignored: a heritic would, of course, disagree – what else do you expect? – but that has no relevance because the maveric does not understand the subtleties of the SCAM and is quite simply incompetent.

Bob’s your uncle!

Criticism has been successfully averted.

No legitimate criticism of SCAM has ever been formulated.

SCAM practitioners are thus on the right track and should carry on as always.




In order to make a clear point, I occasionally exaggerate – but only slightly.


23 Responses to Sorry, but you are not competent to criticize: The culture of avoiding criticism in so-called alternative medicine (SCAM)

  • I see strong parallels with religions and cults: only those who are well-versed in the belief system in question (i.e. True Believers) are deemed knowledgeable enough to criticize said system – only to be immediately expelled and ostracized by their peers if they do.

    • yes, of course
      Palmer toyed with the idea of turning chiropractic into a religion

    • I was an Evangelical pastor for twenty-five years. (I am an atheist today.) it was common for preachers to dismiss outside criticism as uneducated or uninformed, and sometimes that was true. However, more often than not, taking this approach was just a way to mute and dismiss criticism. Even among themselves, critics are accused of having the wrong education or beliefs. Calvinists, in particular, often asserted that only they rightly understood Calvin’s theology. They alone had the decoder ring necessary to reveal the “truth.”

      I eventually came to understand that what mattered was the message, not the messenger. Was his criticism valid, regardless of his educational background? One need not read Greek or be able to parse the nuances of the various lapsarian beliefs to be able to criticize Christianity. So it is with chiropractic care. No, I don’t’ have the training they have, but I can read and try to come to rational, logical conclusions. Years ago, I saw a chiropractor who “transferred his energy into my body.” I didn’t need advanced training to know that was bullshit. (That was my last visit to a chiropractor.)

  • Homeopathics have been subjected to nuclear magnetic resonance by well-known authorities in this field. You are not an expert on nuclear magnetic resonance.

    Many forms of alternative medicine operate at the quantum level. I notice that you haven’t published any research on Quantum Physics.

    Plus a plethora of other deliberate ontological confusions.

    • Pete, may I respectfully draw to your attention that ALL forms of everything “operate at the quantum level.”
      That’s the nature of the universe.
      C’est la vie.
      And everything else – all the way down.

      Please advise us which of the “many forms of alternative medicine” do not “operate at the quantum level.”
      Thank you.

      • Oh, Richard !

        THAT was exactly my point, hence my mentions of:
        ● “Quantum Physics” instead of the correct term; and
        ● “deliberate ontological confusions“.

        To help you spot my snark, in future I shall try to remember to append a trademark symbol, e.g. Quantum Physics™.

        Poe’s law is an adage of internet culture which says that, without a clear indicator of the author’s intent, any parodic or sarcastic expression of extreme views can be mistaken by some readers for a sincere expression of those views.

        LOL 🤣

      • Do not trust atoms!

        They make everything up.

  • with New Year Gretings I received an e-mail from a relative of mine concerning climate change. Climate change does not happen was the youtube video, the claim was made by an musician. He claimed that the wording that 98% of climate scientists adhere to the climate change is not true, and fabricated from scientific publications that only about 10% claim that climate change is mostly man made and happens.

    And everyone can make a youtube video, without any quality control.
    The methods are the same as Edzart showed.

  • There is the somewhat related claim that “Our treatment modality is individualised and cannot be tested by usual scientific methods like RCTs”. Homeopaths are wont to claim this, it seems. Professor Ernst has of course thoroughly debunked this claim in “Homeopathy the Undiluted Facts”.

    An aspect too is that (at least this is my impression formed over years) many or these ‘practitioners’ are not all that clever. Places in real medical schools are highly competitive, and to win a place you have to be academically very bright – capable of thinking a thing through in a logical manner, and of memorising lots of information. In my observation this isn’t true at all of SCAM practitioners.

    On the Quantum thing – I did have this said to me by a lady at an eczema event years ago. She was working in a little screened-off area with a treatment that seemed to consist of waving her hands about. She told me “It works at the quantum level” But if I had asked her “Explain to me the anomalous and puzzling nature of quantum behaviour, with examples including the two-slit experiment, and tell me what you understand a quantum to be”, I don’t think she would have been able to respond. But she was happy to blithely assure people that her treatment affected quantum fields. She said that on one occasion her treatment had knocked out a sick horse. I reflected that if the animal was sick, it probably got to the point of collapse because it wasn’t getting any treatment, just a lady waving her hands. Nor did she divulge the health outcome for the poor animal.

    I’m pretty certain that any Registered Medical Practitioner would be able to describe the anomalous behaviour of the quantum world, and wave-particle duality. And they wouldn’t claim it as a treatment option.

  • Competence is a really funny thing. Some years ago a homeopath, Norma Gäbler is her name, was defending homeopathy, and told the world how homeopathy works with quantum physics. Well, I think it was quantum physics. Or some other matter with tiny matter. And so she boasted with her knowledge, but – alas – there was a nuclear physicist among the folk in that forum. And he tried to explain, but was brushed off by by Norma Gäbler, telling him that he has no clues about nuclear physics.

    Norma Gäbler
    (Die von Physik keine Ahnung hat und einem Kernphysiker die Kernphysik erklären wollte, worauf sie von jenem Kernphysiker nach allen Regeln der Kunst ausgezählt wurde, was sie aber nicht bemerkt.)[email protected]%3e&ST=PS

    To brush off critics by declaring that they are clueless, because they are no experts of homeopathy or whatever, is a common trick. But it does not work. In the case of homeopathy it is really funny when homeopaths boast with being experts on homeopathy. Because it is easy to show the world, that these very self-declared experts contradict even the most fundamental laws of homeopathy.

    An easy way to do it is with studies. Yes, studies of homeopathy. SUCCESSFUL studies of homeopathy!

    20 years ago – oh my, times passes by – at the University of Leipzig, Germany, some 3 scientists made a study with rat guts, proving that homeopathy works.

    Only, well, they messed up so badly with the fundamental laws of homeopathy. So they were challenged by Aribert Deckers:


    Das Mindeste, was man von Homöopathen verlangen kann und darf und muß, ist, daß sie sich an die Grundregeln der Homöopathie halten.

    Ich bitte zu beachten, daß die von mir aufgeführten Kritikpunkte elementare Grundpfeiler der Homöopathie sind.

    Wie man unschwer erkennen kann, sind bei den Versuchen an der Universität Leizig diese Grundregeln nicht eingehalten worden.

    Ich fordere die Universität Leipzig heraus, zu beweisen, daß sie sich EINWANDFREI an die Grundregeln der Homöopathie gehalten hat.

    Ich fordere die Universität Leipzig heraus, zu beweisen, daß das Schütteln eine einwandfrei reproduzierbare, meßbare Größe für den Nachweis der Wirksamkeit liefert.

    Ich behaupte, daß die Versuche an der Universität Leipzig elementarste Grundregeln der Homöopathie mißachten und daher keine Homöopathie sind. Wissenschaftlich sind sie erst recht nicht.

    Aribert Deckers

    As far as we know, the University of Leipzig did not respond. They did not dare. 🙂

    And the 3 scientists? You know, they had been given a prize for their great success, 2 of them gave it back after their bullshit was exposed by some REAL experts (Bruhn, Keck, and Wielandt their name), who showed that the laboratory work was fouled.

    As for the third of the three Leipzig misdoers, Süß is his name, he kept his prize. Homeopaths have their honor. Or at least the money…

    Now, the REAL BIG FUN is not, that Schmidt, Nieber and Süß messed up, and proved that they are clueless about homeopathy. No, the real big fun is all those experts around the world, who hailed the successful study in Leipzig, but were so terribly uneducated in the field of homeopathy, that THEY did not realize that the Leipzig three did not follow the fundamental laws of homeopathy.

    So, in one big blow, all those great homeopaths around the world, proved that they are utterly clueless bigmouths. And the one who showed it, is no homeopath. But he knows more than all those worldwide known experts of homeopathy. DANG!

    And, even worse, he says that all these things are not complicated. Even children at the grammar school already can do it. It is so very easy. You do not need a long university study, you do not need a title, no, all you need is a working brain. School children can crack down on homeopathy, and prove that the homeopaths worldwide are too utterly stupid to understand even the most fundamental laws of homeopathy.

    We can call this a disaster. 🙂

    With other types of fraud it is about the same, only a bit more complicated. But, yes, it really is a child’s play to do it. Ask, for instance, Emily Rosa about her experiment in 1996:

    Two years ago, Emily Rosa of Loveland, Colo., designed and carried out an experiment that challenges a leading treatment in alternative medicine. Her study, reported today in The Journal of the American Medical Association, has thrown the field into tumult.

    Emily is 11 years old. She did the experiment for her fourth grade science fair.

    The most underestimated beings on earth: little children and ants.


    • I had forgotten about Ms Rosa’s study. I’m going to look her up and see what marvelous things she must be doing now. When even a child can see through that stuff, yet nursing programs are brainwashing RN students to eat it whole (all the while studying how to critique evidence in several courses on same?) , because of “academic freedom”, something is so seriously wrong. Note that they also have “energy field” so-called Theories of Nursing that are taught right alongside of the science-based theories, and students aren’t allowed to question the validity of the likes of M Roger’d pile of seemingly hallucination-driven drivel:

      “The basic characteristics that describe the life process of the patient are: energy field, openness, pattern, and pan dimensionality. The energy field is the fundamental unit of all, both the living and unliving. It provides a way to view the patient and his or her environment as wholes, and it continuously changes in intensity, density, and extent. Openness refers to the fact that the human and environmental fields are constantly exchanging their energies. That is, there are no boundaries that block the flow of energy between fields. Pattern is the distinguishing characteristic of an energy field that is seen as a single wave. It’s an abstraction, and simply serves to give identiy to the field. Pan dimensionality is a domain that has no spatial or temporal attributes.”

      Or worse, a new “energy theory of nursing” promoting reiki peiki and no-touch therapeutic touch:

      Dr. Carl O. Helvie is an RN who has developed a new theory for the practice of nursing. Dr. Helvie specializes in alternative medicine treatments and his theory is designed to support this type of care. However, his nursing theory can be applied to any type of nursing care. He holds a PhD in nursing practice.

      Alternative medical treatment involves the use of energy to treat the client. Depending on the treatment, the practitioner may be releasing blocks to the body’s natural energy paths, increasing the body’s energy to respond to an illness or improving the body’s general state of being. Energy is the key to alternative nursing care.

      Drawing upon his lifetime of practice in the nursing field, Dr. Helvie developed his theory around 8 points of action. These 8 points are all necessary to make a successful intervention using the energy theory.

  • Your problem these days Edzard is that most homeopaths are just too busy to discuss these matters with any one sceptical. So if you or anyone else asks for any justification for homeopathy you will just get ignored or get only a quick retort of ‘ don’t use it then’.
    The public are spreading the word at grass roots level. Just check out all the social media groups.
    That is all I have time for as I must rush now.
    Glad to help though.

  • “The public are spreading the word at grass roots level. Just check out all the social media groups.”

    If any on social media groups or elsewhere are spreading the word that homeopathy works better than placebo in altering the course of any health condition, the words they are spreading are lies. Just check out all the medical literature.

    • Ok but to reach out to these members of the public I would suggest that maybe you might get listened to more if you inferred that they are spreading missinformation rather than lies.
      Your problem is that these people have had various experiences and you are trying to explain this for them in a way that just backfires.
      Your IQ is maybe > than your EQ but anyway please dont change, just carry on doing what you are doing.

      I will run along now as i am still looking for that elusive lab that can identify my Arnica from my Arse alb.

      • “i am still looking for that elusive lab that can identify my Arnica from my Arse alb!”

        Why, Mr Ullman has claimed that he has “many times” in this very Blog identified a laboratory that can perform such feats. You must be like me, though, JK – unable to find any of the times he did this.

      • This is in reply to Pete’s first post above–don’t know how it got way down here?

        LOL-I didn’t get it either, Pete, but am chagrined that I did not. I think you have to lurk here regularly and read comments to recognise names enough to know where the person is on the woo-spectrum.

      • This is what I run up against every time I try to even plant a tiny seed of doubt–and I only bother if it is someone I truly care about as I have given up on the true believers long ago. Some otherwise very intelligent people that I know rave about their Chiros and their supplements but the minute I question these practices in any way they begin some testimonial that is nothing more than a very likely coincidental anecdote. When I point this out and mention scientific method, I get eyeball and “science doesn’t know everything”.

        It’s very dispiriting–so to speak.

        • Hi Mimi,

          Whenever I hear something along the lines of “science doesn’t know everything”, I reply with:

          “Science knows it doesn’t know everything; otherwise, it’d stop. But just because science doesn’t know everything doesn’t mean you can fill in the gaps with whatever fairy tale most appeals to you.”
          — Dara Ó Briain

  • “That is all I have time for as I must rush now.”
    “I will run along now as i am still looking”

    You lead such a frenetic life, JK, that I for one do appreciate your having taken time out from an evidently bustling schedule to comment here.

    In all this haste however, I feel that you may have formed a quite quite erroneous impression of my IQ v my EQ, and of my interactions with social media…….

  • Also:

    Discuss with a chiropractor, a homeopath, an energy healer, an osteopath, an acupuncturist, etc., the merits of medicine, and for their qualifications in medicine. If they are not qualified: “Sorry, but you are not qualified to treat people, because medicine is a complex subject that requires a lot of study to fully understand.”

    • You underestimate the ingenuity of frauds. They invent their own science, their own medicine, their own education, their own universities. Take the Viadrina (in Hogwarts an der Oder) or the Universität Witten/Herdecke. Did you know that the university of Milan somehow is associated with the subculture at the Viadrina, and that courses were held in Italy, in Germany, and in Greece? In Greece there is a cozy island with the name of Kos. There for nearly 20 years now the subculturists gather and attend courses to get university degrees. At least they can get some points for the medical chambers for ongoing learning.

      Kos is, you might have guessed this, a really nice place with a high vacation value. Such places are great in the area of practiced medicine. Works like this: book a fare, book some hotel, enjoy the countryside, enjoy the gatherings (especially the nice socializing evenings), do a lot of networking with others in the same field of exploiting patients, and sit in some meetings for some hours to get those darned points for the medical chambers.

      Actually, it is a special tourist industry. Which makes it quite reasonable, why the Greeks are so fond of it. As hosts. And, you might have guessed this already, new courses will take place in Greece in 2024. At the island of Kos.

      Did you know that some of the wire-pullers of the Viadrina still are on the wires in Greece? Yes, they are.

      And think about those funny titles one gets from these title-mills.

      “Experte für Biologische Medizin (Uni Mailand)” – ever heard of that? Looks nice to have the diploma on the walls in the office.

      You can google for

      “biologische medizin” “mailand”

      and there they are.


      Die Qualifizierung zum Praxisschwerpunkt Biologische Medizin erfolgt durch das “Zentrum für Bioklimatologie, Biotechnologie und Naturheilkunde WHO Zentrum für traditionelle Medizin, Universität Mailand”.

      Even the WHO is part of the gang. Somehow…

      Digging deeper you may find that a certain manufacturer of homeopathica is in the backgound. You only have to dig deep enough.

      But things are much more intense than you might ever have dreamt in your worst nightmares. How about evidence-based medicine being a tool for, yes, homeopaths, and, yes, anthroposophs?

      You for sure think that evidence-based medicine is top of the art. Well, that is true, But, actually it is top of the art of fraud.

      See, did you think that homeopathy is evidence-based medicine? Yes, it is! The Austrian company Peithner, you might already have guessed it, is a manufacturer of homeopathica, gives prizes for the proof that homeopathy is evidence-based medicine.

      You have doubts? So do we. But we checked the facts. See for yourself:

      Wien (pts005/28.03.2018/08:00) – Die Homöopathie erfüllt alle Kriterien der evidenzbasierten Medizin! Zu diesem Ergebnis kommt die Allgemeinmedizinerin Dr. Melanie Wölk, die im Rahmen ihrer Masterarbeit zur Erlangung des akademischen Abschlusses Master of Science im Universitätslehrgang Natural Medicine, Donau-Universität Krems, die Frage untersucht hat, ob die Homöopathie den Regeln der Evidence based Medicine (EbM) entspricht. Für diese Arbeit wurde Wölk mit dem Dr. Peithner Sonderpreis für Forschung in der Homöopathie ausgezeichnet.

      But that is only the snowflake on the topping of the iceberg. Look at what is below the surface. Did you ever hear of Andreas Sönnichsen, a professor at the university of Vienna, Austria, well, until the university ex-ed him? Andreas Sönnichsen, when the tide went high in the Covid-19 pandemic, went overboard.

      Did you know that Andreas Sönnichsen was Vorsitzender of the “Deutsches Netzwerk Evidenzbasierte Medizin”?

      And there we have to dig deeper. Did you know that one of the founders of that network is Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Dr. med. Günter Ollenschläger?

      Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Dr. med. Günter Ollenschläger
      Leiter des Ärztlichen Zentrums für Qualität in der Medizin, Berlin
      Apl. Professur für Innere Medizin, Universität zu Köln
      Chairman, Guidelines International Network (
      Schriftführendes Vorstandsmitglied, Deutsches Netzwerk Evidenzbasierte Medizin (DNEbM)
      Herausgeber, Zeitschrift für ärztliche Fortbildung und Qualität im Gesundheitswesen (ZaeFQ) und Clinical Evidence (Deutsche Ausgabe)
      Mitglied des Centre for Evidence-based Medicine,Oxford,
      der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Innere Medizin,
      der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Sozialmedizin und
      Prävention (DGSMP), der Deutschen Gesellschaft für
      Medizinische Informatik, Biometrie und Epidemiologie (GMDS)
      und der Gesellschaft für Qualitätsmanagement im Gesundheitswesen (GQMG)
      Fellow, Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh

      Looks impressive, doesn’t it? But, as I said, one has to dig deeper. Did you know that in 2004 some fabulous members of the medicine in Germany wrote an article in “Deutsches Ärzteblatt”? An article so infamous, so malicious, so outrageous that Aribert Deckers published his damning report 2 years after having read it, 2 years, because he had to cool down first:

      Der Fall Hoppe

      One of the authors of the “Ärzteblatt” article: Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Dr. med. Günter Ollenschläger.

      He was “Schriftführendes Vorstandsmitglied, Deutsches Netzwerk Evidenzbasierte Medizin (DNEbM)”, a major wirepuller there. Someone who writes such a malicious article should not be as malicious in the other things he does? I bet that you can bet on this.

      So from the very beginning the “Deutsches Netzwerk Evidenzbasierte Medizin”, THE base of the German evidence-based medicine, was influenced (or should I say controlled?) by some eso wire-pullers. Andreas Sönninchsen is only one in the row.

      There you are: The alternative fact medicine-men have their own science, their own medicine, their own education, their own universities.

      This leaves one big question: What do they need us for?

      Very simple: to carry out the corpses they leave behind.

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