“ Nothing exists except atoms and empty space; everything else is opinion.”
Democritus of Abdera
“ It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people. ”
September 20 2007
Then they fight you
It really is extraordinary, the lengths some people will go to to try and make reality conform to how they think it 'should' be. Or perhaps it's merely a simple case of trying to destroy that which appears to present a threat to their profits?
I just heard today that there are now a group of people searching out British homeopaths via the internet with the deliberate intent of leading them into an entrapment scenario. They telephone and ask for advice on what the homeopath would recommend they do as they've just had a diagnosis of cancer/TB/MS/etc, hoping to draw them into making some claim about the ability of homeopathy to treat such conditions. They then contact the Society of Homeopaths' Professional Conduct Department citing a breach in their Code of Ethics and Practice, which the Society is then obliged to investigate. Evidence they provide is often selective, so that the quotes misrepresent what has been written or said. Good game, eh?
Well I would like to thank these people most sincerely for their wholehearted endorsement of homeopathy! After all, if it were really just the pure nonsense and woo-woo they publicly claim it to be, such actions on their part would be incomprehensible as well as totally unnecessary. The 'general public', for all the scorn heaped on its collective mental prowess by those who consider themselves to be 'authorities', is a pretty discerning animal. If something doesn't work, people soon find out and word gets around, so health fads with no substance (pun intended!) don't tend to last long, let alone for over 200 years. For someone to go to such lengths to try and discredit homeopathy and the people who practice it, they really must be worried. And dirty tricks departments, by their very nature, don't get past 'go' when it comes to claiming the moral high ground, so they can forget this business about what they're doing being in the 'public good'. Isn't the general idea of good science to encourage the search for truth?
(This is only my opinion, you understand, which is of course an inferior opinion to the opinions of the medical establishment, because they said so.)
September 20 2007 | | | Permalink
“ First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. ”
“ In theory, theory and practice are the same, but in practice they're different. ”
September 16 2007
Then they laugh at you
In the wake of yesterday's piece by Ben Goldacre in The Guardian (Stick to sugar pills and avoid the hard stuff), gleefully ridiculing homeopathy once again, I found Gandhi's words (left) coming to me loud and clear as they frequently do when I read articles like this. Now there was a man who knew a thing or too about bringing about sea-changes in prevailing opinion ...
Things are running true to form, just as Gandhi predicts. For years homeopathy was ignored as a complete irrelevance, then laughed out of court. Now people are taking it a bit more seriously, we're into the fighting stage, with the ridiculers continuing to throw their weight in now and again.
A cursory apprehension of Goldacre's point of view might seem plausible enough, but it doesn't stand up to scrutiny. What is glaringly obvious to anyone who has anything beyond the most superficial acquaintance with the therapy is that he, and other professional detractors such as Professor David Colquhoun, have never bothered to go further than the prejudice on the ends of their noses to understand why so many people – both patients and practitioners – abandon conventional medicine in favour of it.
Is that good science? Hmmmm ...
To attempt to dismiss so many people, among whom will inevitably be a good proportion of rational and intelligent individuals, as misguided fools (or worse) seems more than just a little foolish.
The entire content of Goldacre's piece comes across as mostly supposition – a set of opinions based on a few choice snippets of information taken out of context, much as American schoolkids' essays on London often wax lyrical about fog. Goldacre's assertion that "Peddling fiction is the homeopath's trade" is typical of the logic that he and his ilk resort to employing in order to support their viewpoints, when in fact what they are peddling is the fiction – a view of homeopathy that coalesces out of the fog of their imagination and bears little or no resemblance to the actuality of daily homeopathic practice in any of its myriad permutations. The notion that all homeopaths are liars, cheats and frauds because what they're doing can't be "true" is not a very scientific argument, is it? In fact, it's on a par with racism. Perhaps The Guardian should send Dr Goldacre out to India to experience the no-nonsense frontline of the therapy in a busy homeopathic hospital, where they treat "the hard stuff" every day. It would be interesting to see how long his theories about what constitutes 'evidence' hold up.
Such being the nature of projection, Goldacre is of course massively guilty of the 'Bad Science' his column purportedly stands against. Though what is really at issue here is the nature of "proof" itself and the belief in an objectively determinable "reality". For more on this subject, see my series of essays starting with Unscientific Attachment.
September 16 2007 | | | Permalink
September 14 2007
You know when you've been Virgoed ...
Maybe it's Saturn's entry into Virgo ... I suddenly got hit by an insane urge to re-code this website. It was, after all, the first site I did and the techniques I used at the time have long since been improved upon.
So for those that it means anything to – and who know exactly how much work this entails – this site (since exactly 00.00 hours this morning) now goes table-less and validates to W3C XHTML 1.0 Strict coding standards. What might be a good deal more meaningful and useful though is that the menus have been extended and integrated right down through all the layers of the site so anywhere can be reached in one click from anywhere else.
And we've got another 2½-odd years of Saturn in Virgo ... Jings.
September 14 2007 | | | Permalink