Dr. Steven Novella, an academic neurologist, President of the New England Skeptical Society, and organizer of what’s become my favorite skeptical podcast, The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe, took the time to weigh in on the Nature Neuroscience article that I discussed the other day and that engendered dozens of comments, as posts about antivaccination irrationality tend to do around here.
Besides my being interested in what a neurologist has to say about these issues, the reason that I want to bring your attention to his article is because he issues a clarion call to arms for those who defend science and rationality against pseudoscience and quackery:
Unfortunately the result is that the crazies are raising a frenzied din that is getting the attention of the media and may even be affecting public policy, while the scientists who know better are cowed into avoidance.
I will also extend the call to all of so-called complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). CAM is nothing less than an assault on the scientific underpinnings of modern medicine. It is an eclectic collection of anti-scientific ideology, new age nonsense, bad science, and discarded notions. It survives by political intimidation, the ad-populi logical fallacy, a misapplication of multi-culturalism and “open mindedness”, anti-establishment sentiment, misplaced appeals to freedom, fraud, cons, slick marketing, wishful thinking, scientific illiteracy, and blatant anti-science. The goal of CAM advocates is to create a double standard within medicine – a standard for them in which all of the quality control of evidence, academic and intellectual honesty, and even basic common sense do not apply.
The only thing Steve forgot to mention is that you and I, the U.S. taxpayers, now help to fund this effort through the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Meanwhile, skeptics like Steven or me are attacked as “microfascists “(or even worse) for simply insisting that the standards of evidence should be the same for all medicine, whether “alternative” or “conventional.”