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

proctophasia

I have been called just about everything during my professional life (not to mention the private one). Yesterday, a new addition arrived: a German psychologist who chose to misunderstand a re-Tweet (or is that re-X these days?), Sebastian Bartoschek, implied I am an anti-Semite.

My re-Tweet quoted without any comment by me a Holocaust survivor stating “The Nazis made me afraid to be a Jew, and the Israelis made me ashamed to be a Jew”.

My re-Tweet was meant to make people reflect critical about the horrendous atrocities that is currently happening in Gaza. However, Bartoschek decided it was anti-semitism and demanded I explain myself. As I had previously had an unpleasantly unproductive encounter over an entirely different matter with him, I did not quite see why I should comply to the wishes of this guy. What followed was a rather ridiculous triade by Bartoschek. It included him alerting DIE WELT that someone who sometimes writes for the paper propagates anti-semitism.

A third party (I don’t know who) must have suggested that this amounts to denunciation. Bartoschek replied: “If asking someone why they share anti-Semitic content is denunciation for you, then so be it.” Eventually he sent me this Tweet:

To EdzardErnst – I’ll wait until 11 a.m. tomorrow, Sunday, for a statement. After that, I’ll write about it without it.

This is why I feel that I am blackmailed. Either I explain what I feel is too obvious to explain, or he will write about the matter in what can be expected to be a defaming way.

Well, I prefer to write about it myself by stating categorically that I am definitely not an anti-semite. What is more, I can prove it. I have since many years published numerous articles (around 30, I guess) that make my position entirely clear; to mention just three:

So, now it will be great fun to see whether Bartoschek has lost his marbles and what version of the truth he will tell in his own write-up of the story.

WATCH THIS SPACE.

 

Yesterday, someone (hopefully) unknown to me (hiding under the pseudonym ‘Queristfrei’) tweeted this rather bizarre comment [in German, my translation]:

This trivialisation of the unjust GDR state, in which people died for political reasons, shows how “lost” the people are who @amardeo, @Skepges, @EdzardErnst and the @Skepges respect and defend. That’s historical fabrication to the power of ten! #GWUP

Normally, I would have discarded the comment as just one of those many irrelevant idiocies posted by cranks that I am constantly exposed to on social media. However, the mention of the GWUP, the German skeptics organisation, links it to the current woke-motivated destruction of the GWUP and thus gives it special significance.

‘Woke’ and the various related terms are in fashion and polute discussions on far too many subjects. To be blunt, I don’t like ‘woke, WOKE, anti-woke, unwoke, wokerati’, etc. – so much so that, for the purpose of this post, I will invent an umbrella term that captures all of these words: ANTI-UNWOKERATI, AUWEI for short (yes, there might be a German root in this abbreviation. I know it is a silly acronym but, in my mind, the subject deserves nothing serious).

As already mentioned, I am anti-AUWEI which means I am as much anti-woke as anti-antiwoke. Or, to put it differently, I feel that the world would be a better place, if ‘woke’ had never become en vogue. Here I have listed (in no particular order) several reasons why I dislike AUWEI:

  • AUWEI means different things to different people and is thus a fertile basis for misunderstandings.
  • Every Tom, Dick and Harry uses the AUWEI terminology pretending to be an expert without expertise.
  • Much of what is said and written in the name of AUWEI is pure bullshit.
  • AUWEI has become an ideology.
  • Even worse, it is a straight jacket of the mind that makes us pre-judge a subject regardless of the evidence.
  • Worse still, it is abused by all the wrong politicians.
  • AUWEI serves many as a replacement for evidence.
  • Even worse, it often seems to be an alternative to critical thinking.
  • Most AUWEI-obsessed people seem to have lost their humor (or never had any).
  • AUWEI renders complex issues falsely simple.
  • AUWEI inhibits free thought.
  • AUWEI inhibits nuances and puts you in one camp or another – black or white.
  • AUWEI is unnecessarily devisive.
  • AUWEI invites intolerance and unproductive dispute.

Personally, I like to make up my own mind about things; to do this, I want to see the evidence. Once I have understood it, I go where the evidence leads me – not where AUWEI dictates me to go.

There are many AUWEI subjects that do not interest me and perhaps even more that I find outright silly. Personally, I don’t want AUWEI to tell me that I must have an opinion on them or quietly follow that of my AUWEI ‘peers’.

No, really; AUWEI is not for me.

This pilot study is “delving into the potential benefits of Reiki therapy as a complementary intervention for the treatment and management of stress and anxiety”.

A total of 31 volunteers self-reporting stress, anxiety, or psychological disorders were enrolled. Health-related quality of life (HRQoL) was assessed using the 36-Item Short Form Health Survey (SF-36) Questionnaire for anxiety and depression. Pre- and post-treatment HRQoL scores were meticulously compared, and the significance of the disparities in these scores was meticulously computed.

Analysis was restricted to volunteers who completed the 3-day Reiki sessions. Statistically significant enhancements were discerned across all outcome measures, encompassing positive affect, negative affect, pain, drowsiness, tiredness, nausea, appetite, shortness of breath, anxiety, depression, and overall well-being (P<0.0001).

The authors concluded that the constancy and extensive scope of these improvements suggest that Reiki therapy may not only address specific symptoms but also contribute significantly to a predominant escalation of mental and physical health.

This study is almost comical.

Amongst all the many forms of so-called alternative medicine (SCAM), Reiki is perhaps the most ridiculous scam. It is a form of paranormal or ‘energy healing’ popularised by Japanese Mikao Usui (1865–1926). Rei means universal spirit (sometimes thought of as a supreme being) and ki is the assumed universal life energy. It is based on the assumptions of Traditional Chinese Medicine and the existence of ‘chi’, the life-force that is assumed to determine our health.

Reiki practitioners believe that, with their hands-on healing method, they can transfer ‘healing energy’ to a patient which, in turn, stimulates the self-healing properties of the body. They assume that the therapeutic effects of this technique are obtained from a ‘universal life energy’ that provides strength, harmony, and balance to the body and mind. There is no scientific basis for such notions, and reiki is therefore not plausible.

Reiki is used for a number of conditions, including the relief of stress, tension and pain. There have been several clinical trials testing its effectiveness. Those that are rigorous fail to show that the treatment is effective – and those that are dripping with bias, like the one discussed here, tend to produce false-positive results.

The present study has many flaws that are too obvious to even mention. While reading it, I asked myself the following questions:

  • How could a respectable university ever allow this pseudo-research to go ahead?
  • How could a respectable ethics committee ever permit it?
  • How could a respectable journal ever publish it?

The answers must be that, quite evidently, they are not respectable.

 

Medical Acupuncture is the name of a quarterly journal published for the ‘American Academy of Medical Acupuncture’ that publishes around 60 pro-acupuncture articles every year. Its editor is Richard C. Niemtzow, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H. Richard is a retired US Air Force colonel who was the first full-time physician acupuncturist in the US Armed Forces. He is probably best known for his invention called ‘BATTLE FIELD ACUPUNCTURE’, a form of ear-acupuncture allegedly reducing pain in emergency situations.

Medline lists 79 papers (mostly published in 3rd class journals such as ‘Medical Acupuncture’) in Niemtzow’s name. Only one of them – 21 years ago – was a clinical trial. Here it is:

Purpose: We performed a pilot trial to assess the response of lower urinary tract symptoms and prostate specific antigen (PSA) to acupuncture in a population of patients biopsy negative for prostate cancer.

Materials and methods: A total of 30 patients were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 study groups, including observation for 3 months with 6 blood samples for PSA at set intervals, 9 sessions of acupuncture in 3 months to points of the kidney-bladder distinct meridian expected to treat the prostate with 6 blood samples for PSA at set intervals and 9 sessions of acupuncture in 3 months to points not expected to treat the prostate with 6 blood samples for PSA at set intervals. The effect of acupuncture on lower urinary tract symptoms was assessed monthly using the International Prostate Symptom Score.

Results: Trend analysis (repeated measures ANOVA) revealed no significant changes in the 3-month period in the randomized arms. Statistical analysis showed p = 0.063 for the International Prostate Symptom Score, p = 0.945 for PSA and p = 0.37 for the free-to-total PSA ratio.

Conclusions: Acupuncture to the kidney-bladder distinct meridian neither relieves lower urinary tract symptoms nor impacts PSA.

Yes, an acupuncture study with a negative result!

Niemtzow has, as far as I can see, never himself conducted a study of ‘battle field acupuncture’. In fact, there only very few trials of ‘battle field acupuncture‘. The most recent (albeit lousy) study even suggest that it is less effective than electroacupuncture (EA): EA was more effective than ‘battle field auricular acupuncture’ at reducing pain severity, but both similarly improved physical and mental health scores.

This does not stop Niemtzow to continue praising acupuncture in dozens of papers, particularly his ‘battle field’ version and especially in his ‘own’ journal. The most recent example has just been published; allow me to present an excerpt to you:

In December of 2023, I had the opportunity to visit the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. The only day I had for this visit was characterized by a pouring and chilling rain. This did not stop the crowds of people visiting this famous exhibition. I reminded myself that Van Gogh was a troubled spirit. He lived a short tumultuous life characterized by cutting off his left ear lobe and he spent a sojourn in an asylum. Yet, his art emerged in all its beauty and splendor to become famous in the world. Despite all his troubles, he contributed a precious collection of magnificent art. Many individuals would not have surfaced out of personal disorders to produce such a wonderful gift to society. However, history tells us that many sensational contributions originated from people embroiled in mental health illnesses.

Medical Acupuncture published more than 13 years ago the acupuncture ‘‘diagnosis’’ of Vincent Van Gogh. The article, which is worth rereading, discussed the Five-Element pattern associated with the artist’s hallucinations, alcoholism, severe depression, insomnia, anxiety, dizziness, headaches, nightmares, etc. The author, Vera Kaikobad, LAc, stated: ‘‘It is poignant to realize that a few needles in the hands of a skilled acupuncturist may have spared this great artist such torment and perhaps saved his life.’’ Feasibly, in 2024 we should not only examine our patients for their physical complaints; we should venture into their mental health status as well. A back or neck pain is important, but so is anxiety, insomnia, etc. In promoting mental health, we may assist many patients who are perhaps capable of contributing to the well-being of the world. It is our responsibility as acupuncturists not to think of our patients as a neck or back pain, etc.; instead, we must see them as whole persons having spiritual and physical needs that must be addressed.

I feel that, overall, this remarkable effort justifies Niemtzow’s admission to my ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE HALL OF FAME.

WELCOME, RICHARD!

And let me introduce you to the rest of the 24 laureates:

  1. Helmut Kiene (anthroposophical medicine)
  2. Helge Franke (osteopathy, Germany)
  3. Tery Oleson (acupressure , US)
  4. Jorge Vas (acupuncture, Spain)
  5. Wane Jonas (homeopathy, US)
  6. Harald Walach (various SCAMs, Germany)
  7. Andreas Michalsen ( various SCAMs, Germany)
  8. Jennifer Jacobs (homeopath, US)
  9. Jenise Pellow (homeopath, South Africa)
  10. Adrian White (acupuncturist, UK)
  11. Michael Frass (homeopath, Austria)
  12. Jens Behnke (research officer, Germany)
  13. John Weeks (editor of JCAM, US)
  14. Deepak Chopra (entrepreneur, US)
  15. Cheryl Hawk (chiropractor, US)
  16. David Peters (osteopathy, homeopathy, UK)
  17. Nicola Robinson (TCM, UK)
  18. Peter Fisher (homeopathy, UK)
  19. Simon Mills (herbal medicine, UK)
  20. Gustav Dobos (various SCAMs, Germany)
  21. Claudia Witt (homeopathy, Germany/Switzerland)
  22. George Lewith (acupuncture, UK)
  23. John Licciardone (osteopathy, US)

After the nationwide huha created by the BBC’s promotion of auriculotherapy and AcuSeeds, it comes as a surprise to learn that, in Kent (UK), the NHS seems to advocate and provide this form of quackery. Here is the text of the patient leaflet:

Kent Community Health, NHS Foundation Trust

Auriculotherapy

This section provides information to patients who might benefit from auriculotherapy, to complement their acupuncture treatment, as part of their chronic pain management plan.

What is auriculotherapy?

In traditional Chinese medicine, the ear is seen as a microsystem representing the entire body. Auricular acupuncture focuses on ear points that may help a wide variety of conditions including pain. Acupuncture points on the ear are stimulated with fine needles or with earseeds and massage (acupressure).

How does it work?

Recent research has shown that auriculotherapy stimulates the release of natural endorphins, the body’s own feel good chemicals, which may help some patients as part of their chronic pain management plan.

What are earseeds?

Earseeds are traditionally small seeds from the Vaccaria plant, but they can also be made from different types of metal or ceramic. Vaccaria earseeds are held in place over auricular points by a small piece of adhesive tape, or plaster. Applying these small and barely noticeable earseeds between acupuncture treatments allows for patient massage of the auricular points. Earseeds may be left in place for up to a week.

Who can use earseeds?

Earseeds are sometimes used by our Chronic Pain Service to prolong the effects of standard acupuncture treatments and may help some patients to self manage their chronic pain.

How can I get the most out my treatment with earseeds?

It is recommended that the earseeds are massaged two to three times a day or when symptoms occur by applying gentle pressure to the earseeds and massaging in small circles.

Will using earseeds cure my chronic pain?

As with any treatment, earseeds are not a cure but they can reduce pain levels for some patients as part of their chronic pain management programme.

________________________

What the authors of the leaflet forgot to tell the reader is this:

  • Auriculotherapy is based on ideas that fly in the face of science.
  • The evidence that auriculotherapy works is flimsy, to say the least.
  • The evidence earseeds work is even worse.
  • To arrive at a positive recommendation, the NHS had to heavily indulge in the pseudo-scientific art of cherry-picking.
  • The positive experience that some patients report is due to a placebo response.
  • For whichever condition auriculotherapy is used, there are treatments that are much more adequate.
  • Advocating auriculotherapy is therefore not in the best interest of the patient.
  • Arguably, it is unethical.
  • Definitely, it is not what the NHS should be doing.

The so-called ‘Miracle Mineral Solution’ (MMS) – bleach for you and me – is a SCAM that keeps on giving. On this blog, we have featured MMS several times before, e.g.:

Now,it has been reported that a New Zealand anti-vaxxer has been jailed for selling more than $100,000 worth of an industrial bleach as a “miracle” cure for Covid-19. Roger Blake, who describes himself as a “human man”, was sentenced to just over 10 months’ imprisonment after being found guilty at trial of 29 charges in the Hamilton District Court.

Blake advertised and sold MMS products, claiming it could treat, prevent and cure coronavirus. However, New Zealand’s Ministry of Health had not approved the product, and detailed that when ingested became chlorine dioxide – a bleach commonly used for water treatment, bleaching textiles and paper.

The court heard Blake had marketed the product as a cure in New Zealand from the start of the pandemic between December 2019 and December 2020. Medsafe, the health ministry’s safety authority, said Blake’s company had sales of NZ$160,000 in that period – with sales spiking in March when the country was placed in lockdown.

Judge Brett Crowley said Blake’s behaviour had been “utterly disgraceful”. He added that Blake had “seized upon the tragedy” of the pandemic for financial gain. Before selling MMS as a “cure” for the coronavirus, Blake had marketed the product as a preventive of other diseases and illnesses such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes and HIV.

Medsafe prosecuted him under the Medicines Act, with compliance manager Derek Fitzgerald saying the “fake cure” Blake spruiked presented a “significant public health risk”. “He targeted the vulnerable, preyed on public fears and exposed people to harm”, he said. “This decision sends a strong message that people who engage in selling so called ‘miracle cures’ will be held to account and face fines or imprisonment.”

The website which sold MMS in New Zealand was registered to US-based Mark Grenon, who set up the “Genesis II Church of Health and Healing”. As reported previously, Grenon and his three sons were jailed in October for several years in the US for selling more than US$1m of the product. Michael Homer, an assistant US lawyer who prosecuted the case, said at the time the family targeted people suffering from life-threatening illnesses. The Grenons poisoned thousands of people with their bogus miracle cure, which was nothing more than industrial bleach,” he said.

Medsafe warns: “Drinking MMS is the same as drinking bleach and can cause dangerous side effects, including severe vomiting, diarrhoea, and life-threatening low blood pressure. We strongly encourage people to only go to trusted sources, such as your doctor, to get reliable information”.

Medsafe received three reports of people requiring hospitalizations after drinking MMS. “His conduct presented a significant risk to public health, and that is why Medsafe acted. His actions were in stark contrast to the requirements of the Medicines Act 1981, which is public welfare legislation designed to protect the public” said Mr Fitzgerald.

I am sure that I am not the only one who feels with or friend, regular contributor, and expert in uncritical thinking, Dana Ullman. His heart-warming defence of homeopathy entirely depends on the notion that homeopathy is nano-medicine. As Dana’s views are more and more discredited, the poor man understandably gets more and more desperate. This development has now gone so far that Dana seems on the brink of cracking up.

Who would not feel with him?

What we urgently need to save Dana’s sanity is a new concept that could be used to defend the indefensible.

In the nick of time, here comes a lone researcher of homeopathy from India. Amarnath Sen has just published his hypothesis that will surely save the endangered mental stage of our friend, Dana Ullman. Here is the abstract:

The apparent absence of drugs in ultra-diluted homeopathic medicines and contested clinical trial results plague homeopathy. In this paper, it is argued that other than drugs, homeopathic medicines contain proteins as components of microbial lysates (products of lysis or disintegration of microbial cells), given that ubiquitous microorganisms from the surrounding environment are unknowingly and unavoidably incorporated into the homeopathic medicines during their preparation and are killed and lysed in ethanol/water drug vehicle forming immunomodulatory microbial lysates during ‘potentization’ (dilution and vigorous shaking) of the medicines. The drugs present in the homeopathic medicines bind to the proteins, which are the major ingredients of the microbial lysates. The drug/protein interaction modulates the conformations and in effect, the immunogenicity of the proteins (designated as modulated proteins). In ultra-diluted medicines even in the absence of drugs, unmodulated proteins are modulated through interactions with allosterically coupled modulated proteins (protein-protein interaction). The modulated proteins of characteristic immunogenicity present in the homeopathic medicines mediate antigen-specific mucosal (sublingual) immunotherapy like vaccine therapy via ‘similia principle’. In addition, immunomodulatory microbial lysates present in the homeopathic medicines mediate non-specific immunotherapy and also provide adjuvants for antigen-specific immunotherapy. The proposed hypothesis without invoking any controversial concept can explain the basic ‘laws’ of homeopathy. Incidentally, immunomodulatory activities of homeopathic medicines reported by different workers support the hypothesis. As immunotherapy in homeopathy is accidental and hence, in crude form, clinical trial results may occasionally show inconsistencies. However, probing and refining homeopathy from the perspective of immunotherapy may bring forth a simple, reliable and affordable immunotherapy for various diseases.

Convinced?

Me neither!

The concept is clearly as bonkers as all the others trying to explain homeopathy. Yet, I am optimistic that it might save our friend Dana Ullman. After all, it is not more silly than the notion that homeopathy is nano-medicine – and remeber: even an US judge certified Dana:

The Court found Mr. Ullman’s testimony to be not credible. Mr. Ullman’s bias in favor of homeopathy and against conventional medicine was readily apparent from his testimony. He admitted that he was not an impartial expert but rather is a passionate advocate of homeopathy. He posted on Twitter that he views conventional medicine as witchcraft. He opined that conventional medical science cannot be trusted.

So, there is hope!

Amarnath Sen and is ‘concept’ might just do the trick and restore Dana’s state of mind.

Many years ago, when I was first invited to give a talk to a gathering of skeptics, I started my lecture by stating: “I am very sceptical – so much so that I am even sceptical about the skeptics.” Now it seems that my words are about to acquire a new meaning.

Since several years, I am a member of the scientific committee of the German sceptic organisation GWUP and I have observed with increasing bewilderment what is happenting to this formerly solid organization.

For me, scepticism is based on at least three elements:

  • free thought,
  • open discourse,
  • pursuit of the truth through criticical assessment.

The leadership of the GWUP, recent developments seem to suggest, have lost sight of these elements. It occurred after the election of the new board of the GWUP in May 2023 (https://skepticalinquirer.org/2023/10/shakeup-among-german-skeptics). Subsequently, the open exchange of ideas made way to an atmosphere where dissent is discouraged or stifled. Examples of this phenomenon, particularly by Hümmler the newly elected chair, are becoming increasingly evident.

The incident involving the German philosopher Andreas Edmüller might serve as an example. His presentation for a GWUP regional group on ‘The WOKE Phenomenon – A frontal assault on the values of the enlightenment?’ (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljm0iqqFoqk) was met with vitriol before he even spoke. One individual even called Edmüller an “asshole” (‘Arschloch’ https://twitter.com/Diaphanoskopie/status/1715441184431067512). Hümmler, rather than apologising to Edmüller for the undue abuse, chose to lecture him on politically correct language and accuse him of spreading ‘alt-right’ talking points (https://twitter.com/hummler/status/1719114920250265733).

Another example is the case of Stefan Kirsch, a long-standing member of GWUP. “He has been dismissed by Hümmler from his role as ‘communication manager’. Why? Because, would you believe it, he shared Edmüller’s presentation on X (formerly Twitter) (https://twitter.com/gwup/status/1715284877375942964).

To make matters worse, Hümmler is also said to have interfered with the organizing committee’s decisions for the upcoming Skepkon conference in May 2024. He apparently insisted on removing presentations from some GWUP members who had been critical of his leadership. In addition, Hümmler repeatedly denied the GWUP’s scientific committtee to share material with the GWUP’s members.

Up to now, I have watched this embarrassing spectacle from the sidelines and deliberately stayed out of any disputes. But I do feel strongly that skeptics, of all people, must not endanger our good causes by behaving like children on an ego-trip. We are in danger of becoming the laughing stock of our opponents!

I for one have grown increasingly sceptical about the GWUP and its future – so much so that I am now seriously considering my association with this organisation. If this embarrassingly counter-productive behavior does not demonstrably change after the annual convention in May this year, I (and probably many other German skeptics) will simply depart from the ruins of this organization.

PS

(added 8/1/2024)

I have been asked to be as transparent as possible and provide evidence for the statements I made above. Let me try:

 

  1. How do I know that Hümmler has interfered with the selection of the conference organising committee? Sorry, but I have been given this information in confidence; that is, I promised to not disclose the source. I tried my best to express this situation by wording my text accordingly: “Hümmler is also said to have interfered with the organizing committee’s decisions for the upcoming Skepkon conference in May 2024. He apparently insisted on removing presentations from some GWUP members who had been critical of his leadership.” Because of the interest in this matter, have now asked some people who may know about this to come forward to confirm my statement (e.g. on social media).

 

  1. As to my assertion that Hümmler “repeatedly denied the GWUP’s scientific committee to share material with the GWUP’s members”, I have first and knowledge of the situation. As a member of the committee, I was copied in to all the relevant exchanges. Moreover, his refusal is also documented in the minutes of the committee.

I hope this addresses the concerns that some readers have voiced.

Since the introduction of their new Education Standards in March 2023, the General Chiropractic Council (GCC) has been working with chiropractic education providers to support them in implementing the changes to their curricula. Recently, the GCC have stated this:

We expect students to be taught evidence-based practice: integrating individual clinical expertise, the best available evidence from current and credible clinical research, and the values and preferences of patients. Chiropractors are important members of a patient’s healthcare team, and interprofessional approaches enable the best outcomes. Programmes that meet these Standards will teach ethical, professional care and produce competent healthcare professionals who can serve the needs of patients.

These are indeed most encouraging words!

Basically, they are saying that chiropractic education will now have to be solidly based on the principles of evidence-based medicine (EBM) as well as sound medical ethics. Let me spell out what this really means. Chiropractic courses must teach that:

  • The current and credible clinical evidence suggesting that spinal manipulations, the hallmark intervention of chiropractors, are effective is weak for back pain and negative or absent for all other conditions.
  • The current and credible clinical evidence suggests that spinal manipulations, the hallmark intervention of chiropractors, can cause harm which in many instances is serious.
  • The current and credible clinical evidence thus suggests that the risk/benefit balance for spinal manipulations, the hallmark intervention of chiropractors, is not positive.
  • Medical ethics require that competent healthcare professionals inform their patients that spinal manipulations, the hallmark intervention of chiropractors, may not generate more good than harm which is the reason why they cannot employ these therapies.

So, the end of chiropractic in the UK is looming!

Unless, of course, the GCC’s words are not really meant to be translated into action. They could be just window dressing and politically correct bullshit. But that’ s really far too far fetched – after all they come from the GENERAL CHIROPRACTIC COUNCIL, known for its excellent track record, e.g.:

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:

YOU ARE NOT COMPETENT TO CRITICIZE!

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.

 

 

PS

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

 

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