Respectful Insolence

Between sessions here at the AACR meeting, I started thinking. (I realize that’s often a dangerous thing to do, but sometimes I can’t help myself.) What I was thinking about was my annual bit of “fluff with a bite,” the 2008 edition of “What is an altie?” Why, I don’t know, but I was. Then, this morning while quickly perusing a few blogs and reading my e-mail before heading off to the meeting’s morning session, I noticed something in yesterday’s post about the commonality between creationists (evolution denialists), Holocaust deniers, and other forms of denialists. It was a term, a throwaway term that I had punched out on the keyboard without a second thought and then moved on to the rest of the post. Yet, as I re-read my post, suddenly it jumped out at me:

Scientific medicine denialists.

I don’t claim any sort of originality, but I can’t recall having seen that term before, and Googling “scientific medicine denialist” or “scientific medicine denialism” didn’t produce any real hits. Then it occurred to me. Whereas “altie” is a humorous term for a certain type of “alternative medicine” maven who is immune to reason and denies much in the way of anything good ever coming from the dreaded “allopathic” medicine, “scientific medicine denialist” appears to be a far better term to use to describe such people. Moreover, it has the advantages both of being a more general term that is not restricted to alties and filling a void in that there presently isn’t a nice, pithy term to describe this phenomenon.

The reason I’ve come to think this to be a good term, of course, is that scientific medicine denialists are denialists. They meet all the criteria as far as tactics and logical fallacies go. They deny the science behind medicine, as well as the usefulness and effectiveness of modern medicine. Now, I don’t necessarily agree with Mark Hoofnagle on all the nitty-gritty details of his definition of denialism, but I agree largely with him. He’s correct enough that my minor quibbles don’t prevent me from linking to his definition approvingly and pointing out just how many characteristics Hoofnagle lists that apply to scientific medicine denialists:

  • Conspiracy. Scientific medicine denialists love this one to death. After all, the reason you–yes, you!–aren’t as healthy as you could be is because of a massive conspiracy involving (pick one or more) big pharma, the FDA, the CDC, the NIH, with or without the Illuminati and Masons, are keeping you from finding out The Truth about how worthless and harmful “allopathic” medicine is and how wonderful whatever form of “alternative” medicine favored by the particular altie doing the arguing. All of this is, of course, in order to protect profits (which, it is said, are threatened by The Truth of alternative medicine” or to keep control–or any of a number of nefarious purposes, such as ideology, fear of losing grant money, etc.
  • Selectivity. Another favorite. Whenever I read tracts written by scientific medicine denialists, they will always zero in like a laser beam on one or two studies that refute some aspect of scientific medicine and ignore the vast majority of literature that supports that aspect. Alternatively, they will fail to put such studies into context (a favorite technique when referring to articles that estimate how many iatrogenic deaths occur every year). Another common technique is to cite old research papers (sometimes decades or even more than a century old) as authoritative when the science has long since moved on. One example: Citing Beauchamps as “evidence” that Louis Pasteur was wrong. Another example: Those who think that HIV does not cause AIDS like to cite research articles from the 1980s, when the science of how HIV causes AIDS had not yet been worked out in the exquisite detail that it has now.
  • False Experts. Hulda Clark. Joseph Mercola. Mike Adams. Mark and David Geier. Need I say more? I could go on.
  • Impossible Expectations/Moving Goalposts. Another favorite technique, easily recognized when, no matter how much evidence and how many scientific studies are marshalled in favor of a particular scientific medical treatment, the altie will always declare it as “unconvincing” or demand more evidence. This is the very same technique that creationists and Holocaust deniers, in particular, excel at. Another example is antivaccinationists demanding absolute, 100% safety from vaccines when nothing in medicine is without at least a tiny degree of risk.
  • Argument from Metaphor/violations of informal logic. Another favorite, particularly the argument from (almost always bad) analogy or metaphor.

Some will accuse me of “smearing” or “labeling.” I reject the former charge. The latter charge is a bit more complex, but I would answer that there is nothing wrong with labeling if the labeling is accurate and not used to describe something that does not fit the term. (I’m sure there will be commentary in the discussion thread here that will take me to task for that; try to make your case, and I will consider alternate viewpoints.) Creationists howl about being called “creationists” or “evolution deniers.” Holocaust deniers, in particular, hate the term “denier” or “denialist” when it is applied to them. So do HIV/AIDS denialists. But can anyone argue that the term doesn’t fit for all of them? But the term fits for them and it fits for alties who, just as evolution denialists (a.k.a. creationists) concede that “microevolution happens” while denying macroevolution, concede that scientific medicine is good for things like trauma or appendicitis deny that it is much good for anything else. Can anyone argue that the term doesn’t apply to, for example, Mike Adams or Joseph Mercola? What I am really trying to do here is to come up with a brief, descriptive, and accurate term to use to describe this mindset.

Consequently, henceforth I am going to experiment with using the term “scientific medicine denialist” when referring to altie-like behavior. The beauty of the term is that it doesn’t just encompass alties. It also easily encompasses other deniers of scientific medicine, such as antivaccinationists, HIV/AIDS denialists, and germ theory denialists (I still can’t believe that germ theory denialists still exist, but they do), among others, whom I now view as subclassifications under the more general term of scientific medicine denialist. It could even be used to describe corporate scientific medicine denialists, such as tobacco company campaigns to deny the dangers of secondhand smoke or epidemiology linking various chemicals to adverse effects on human health. They all fit in that they share an unrelenting hostility, distrust, or dislike towards scientific medicine when it disagrees with their beliefs, and they make their pseudoscientific arguments in the same way that other denialists, be they creationists or whatever, do. I also urge other bloggers dedicated to scientific medicine to consider using the term as well.

Comments

  1. #1 Ranson
    April 14, 2008

    A great idea, Orac, and one I’d like to see taken up by the skeptical and science-based medical communities. As a term, it squarely identifies one that uses it as one who recognizes that the weight of evidence is on their side, and that the other side is the one making outrageous claims. I think it’s a significant development in the way arguments can be presented and (dare I say it) framed. It lacks the outright ridicule that the terms “altie” or “woo” provide, and I think that can be a good thing, depending on your target audience. It’s not a good term for expressing outrage, but as part of a reasoned debate or article, I think that term will cut deeply with someone who may be on the fence.

    I will advocate and encourage its use. It’s a small thing, but sometimes the slightest tweak of language can be a very big deal in terms of perception.

  2. #2 MarkH
    April 14, 2008

    Why not just medicine denialism? What defines modern medicine is its scientific basis, seems a tad redundant.

    Either way, I’ll use it too as I’m irritated with this bunch in particular lately.

  3. #3 bob koepp
    April 14, 2008

    If you can manage to employ the term ‘scientific medicine denialist’ only when it actually applies, more power to you. I’ve noticed a tendency among certain bloggers, however, to label as ‘deniers’ people who believe things lacking proper evidential support. I hope you won’t be that sloppy in your use of language (sloppy language is, after all, probably the best evidence available of sloppy thinking).

    BTW, an illustration of my point is perhaps provided by your apparent identification of creationists as evolution denialists.

  4. #4 Dangerous Bacon
    April 14, 2008

    Nah, I’d stick with “altie” if you need a handy, all-purpose term for the health-credulous. Fewer syllables, pithier.

    “Sucker” also works for me. It has always seemed weird to me that the people who think they’re superior to the common herd in knowing how the Government, Big Pharma and other Entities pull the wool over our eyes, are themselves so much more easily deceived by the conspiracy-mongers and quack cure peddlers.

    I’ve been hesitant to compare Holocaust denial and various forms of health denialism for Godwinesque reasons, but they really are analogous to a certain extent. For instance, Holocaust denial is essential to some bigots because the Holocaust is such an impediment to spreading anti-Semitism. The success of immunization programs are a huge impediment to spreading the altie gospel, so the track record of vaccination must be distorted and denied.

  5. #5 Orac
    April 14, 2008

    BTW, an illustration of my point is perhaps provided by your apparent identification of creationists as evolution denialists.

    How so? Creationists use the entire denialist playbook in sometimes quite extravagant ways.

  6. #6 Raphael
    April 14, 2008

    I generally agree with you in this argument, but I don’t think that coming up with new things to call is either a good use of time or a good point. Anyone can do that, after all, even people who have the evidence against them. And it’s kind of silly.

  7. #7 David Marjanović, OM
    April 14, 2008

    When I saw this headline, I wondered “scientific denialists? Scientists who are denialists? Denialists who are scientists? What? Or is that a pun on ‘Scientific Socialism’?”

    Turned out you meant that the medicine, not the denialism, is scientific. What about a hyphen, then? “Scientific-medicine denialism” is unambiguous.

  8. #8 Richter
    April 14, 2008

    Also, I think “respectful insolence” is difficult to pull off, an oxymoron as it is. At best, it’s a fine line.

  9. #9 David Marjanović
    April 14, 2008

    I generally agree with you in this argument, but I don’t think that coming up with new things to call is either a good use of time or a good point. Anyone can do that, after all, even people who have the evidence against them. And it’s kind of silly.

    It’s framing :-)

  10. #10 R N B
    April 14, 2008

    Agree with David M on the linguistic point.

    Of course Orac’s arguments are sound, they are denialists of some form, but a new and better term should aim to be unambiguous. The title could be read as:

    scientific “medicine denialism”

    i.e. a way to deny medicine using science. Obviously these people are not that.

    Actually I think you are talking about science denialists or evidence denialists or medicine denialists or …

  11. #11 PalMD
    April 14, 2008

    I like it. It really is moving toward a unified theory of denialism.

    Several months ago, around the same time sciencebasedmedicine.org was launched, we all had an online discussion about what to call the alties. This term was not discussed. This may turn out to be quite useful….

  12. #12 bob koepp
    April 14, 2008

    “BTW, an illustration of my point is perhaps provided by your apparent identification of creationists as evolution denialists.
    How so? Creationists use the entire denialist playbook in sometimes quite extravagant ways.”

    Basic logic. If there are creationists who believe that evolution by natural selection is the proximate cause of the order and variety observed in the biosphere, then they can’t very well be charged with denying evolution. And the set of such creationists isn’t the null set. So, to avoid slop in your thoughts and words, you need, at the very least, to distinguish between varieties of creationism.

  13. #13 David Marjanović
    April 14, 2008

    Stupid 500 error.

    Agree with David M on the linguistic point.

    That’s orthography, not linguistics… :^)

  14. #14 Richter
    April 14, 2008

    I agree with PalMD. I think we all need a unified theory of denialism, and that is a good name for it. Really, the only suggestion I have is to improve the acronym. UTD is not very imaginative, neither is UTOD. Perhaps…. I’ve got it!! How about RETARD – or anything, really, but i’ll take RETARD just to illustrate my point. So, the RE stands for U, and the AR are silent, giving us (RE=U)T(AR)D = UTD. Then if anyone questions the use of subsitutions or silent letters in the acronym, deny it!! And if they don’t get it, they are just too stupid = retard, and obviously don’t deserve to understand the underlying theory.

  15. #15 AtheistAcolyte
    April 14, 2008

    Bob Koepp-

    Basic logic. If there are creationists who believe that evolution by natural selection is the proximate cause of the order and variety observed in the biosphere, then they can’t very well be charged with denying evolution. And the set of such creationists isn’t the null set. So, to avoid slop in your thoughts and words, you need, at the very least, to distinguish between varieties of creationism.

    “Creationist” means someone who believes that a supernatural entity must have created some, or a large degree of biodiversity on the planet ex nihilo. What you describe is more of a “theistic evolutionist”, someone who accepts the scientific evidence of evolution, but believes that a supernatural entity started it all rolling, and used evolution by natural selection to build up the biodiversity of species.

    Essentially, I’m saying you’re labeling a particular type of thinker a “creationist”, when by most metrics, they are not.

  16. #16 bob koepp
    April 14, 2008

    AtheistAcolyte – And we should accept your proffered criteria for someone being a ‘creationist’ for what reasons? Note that on your view, the pope isn’t a creationist. Note also that on your view, anybody who fails to embrace the doctrine of creation ex nihilo won’t qualify as a creationist. Sheesh…

    And what’s this talk of _most_ metrics? Any evidence to back up such a claim???

  17. #17 Coin
    April 14, 2008

    Nice idea, but, sorry, too many syllables. Can’t catch on. “Medicine denialism” might work better, though of course, it may be that no one would really know what to make of the term “denialism” unless they read blogs like this.

    Finding some kind of alternate term for “alternative medicine” however that can be used with a wide audience probably is desirable. The problem with “alternative medicine” is that you can’t attack it without subtly reinforcing the idea it actually is a form of medicine, which of course the entire problem in the first place is it isn’t particularly. I guess have you considered “anti-medicine”, “anti-medical” or “nonmedical”?

    “Medicine alternatives”?

  18. #18 Coin
    April 14, 2008

    Although I use “creationist” because everyone understands what it means, I really think “evolution denier” is technically a more strictly accurate term than “creationist”. “Creationist” implies that creationists do something positive besides just deny evolution, which in practice is generally not the case.

  19. #19 Spaulding
    April 14, 2008

    Bob koepp, I see your point that those who favor the hypothesis of magic over various abiogenesis hypotheses do not always deny the subsequent occurrance of evolution. And I agree that in situations where it matters, it’s more nuanced to recognize the difference. However, for practical purposes, the creationists who are significantly more problematic for education and rational culture are the ones who deny all or significant parts of evolutionary history and process.

    Experiments have only made abiogenesis look more plausible, but we’re still speculating about what could have happened rather than what did. So perhaps “Abiogenesis Denier” would be an overreaching term.

    Somewhat parallel statements might be made about deists who substitute an act of divine agency for the Big Bang, and then graciously permit physics and chemistry to handle the rest.

  20. #20 Liesl
    April 14, 2008

    “they are just too stupid = retard, and obviously don’t deserve to understand the underlying theory.”

    No. People can be stupid by choice but people who are developmentally disabled do not have that choice. Also, everyone deserves to understand a theory; not to mention the fact that the world would be a better place if people did possess understanding. What is it we rail against other than that?

    On a side note: the use of the word “retard” to describe someone who behaves stupidly does the people who are in fact “slow” a grave disservice. It makes their disability an insult in general and implies that there is something wrong with having the disability.

  21. #21 Lucas McCarty
    April 14, 2008

    Agree with Coin. Ken Miller would be a good example of a Creationist that does not deny evolution.

  22. #22 Coin
    April 14, 2008

    those who favor the hypothesis of magic over various abiogenesis hypotheses do not always deny the subsequent occurrance of evolution

    Hm. Well, is there anyone at all of note who denies natural abiogenesis, but grants the accuracy of all of evolutionary biology after that point? Would such a person be necessarily welcomed into the creationist camp by the creationists themselves?

    Does Guillermo Gonzalez fall into this category? Does The Privileged Planet actually claim evolution itself has been manipulated, or does it stick to claiming “fine-tuning” of the cosmos and earth to create life-friendly conditions?

  23. #23 Coin
    April 14, 2008

    Agree with Coin. Ken Miller would be a good example of a Creationist that does not deny evolution.

    I will note that although theistic evolutionists are in some literal sense “creationists”, in my experience actual [evolution-denying] creationists invariably seem to become very bothered when one tries to lump theistic evolutionists into their camp. Creationism is more a political movement than it is an idea.

  24. #24 PalMD
    April 14, 2008

    As one of the commenters pointed out, this may turn out to be a term of art, perhaps a short hand in the blogosphere, but part of the aim of skeptical bloggers is to change how people think, and names do that. We shall see.

  25. #25 bob koepp
    April 14, 2008

    Coin – Granted I am nobody of note, and granted, I don’t deny abiogenesis (but nor do I affirm it; I simply view it as the most plausible hypothesis we have); still… regardless of whether one accepts some version of abiogenisis, nobody who thinks critically about the matter “grants the accuracy of all of evolutionary biology after that point.” Surely there are a few inaccuracies in the extant body of evolutionary theory.

    As for creationism being “more a political movement than it is an idea,” I think it would be much more accurate to say that a political movement has formed around the idea of creationism. What’s wrong with that political movement isn’t its political nature, after all, but the idea around which it has formed.

  26. #26 Sastra
    April 14, 2008

    Although almost any philosophical or theological term has multiple meanings, the word “Creationism” is today pretty much reserved for the belief that God created things “in their original form.” Otherwise, pretty much every theist would be a creationist, by definition. Even narrowed down, though, there are still different variations of creationist (young and old earth, for example.)

    At any rate, creationists are not likely to have too many problems with the label “evolution denier” (other than that it carries the implication that evolution is true.) Not so, I’m going to guess, for the alties and “scientific medicine deniers.”

    They’ll often take several “pro-science” stances:

    1.) I don’t deny scientific medicine. Alternative medicine has met every criteria of modern day science, but the mainstream doesn’t want to accept it.

    2.) I don’t deny scientific medicine. It’s just that what’s considered “science” today is too narrow; we need to return to the past/incorporate other cultures, and bring our spiritual understanding and folk methods back into science, and do science as it should be done.

    3.) I don’t deny scientific medicine. But science is only one way of knowing. We need to use science AND other methods.

    4.) I don’t deny scientific medicine. Like all faiths, it works for some people, and not others. We create reality with our minds.

  27. #27 Coin
    April 14, 2008

    nobody who thinks critically about the matter “grants the accuracy of all of evolutionary biology after that point.” Surely there are a few inaccuracies in the extant body of evolutionary theory.

    Well, sure, of course. But here meaning “accepts the accuracy” to the extent anything in science can ever be “accurate”. In a sense “the most plausible hypothesis”, as you put it, is the most science can ever or should ever give us, and that’s all we really need. (Maybe “validity” would have been a better word for me to have used?)

  28. #28 Jesse
    April 14, 2008

    I like it but……

    It doesn’t roll of the tongue very nicely. The most empirical descriptor is, indeed, Scientific Medicine Denialists as it aptly describes people whom engage in an action (Denialists) and the subject which they deny (Scientific (based) Medicine). BUT… Maybe Evidence-based Medicine Denialists (EBMDs) would ‘flow’ a little nicer?

    Using ‘Scientific Medicine’ conjures- at least in my mind- images of people working in sterile laboratory environments somewhat divorced from the clinic. I realize that this is very much what does indeed happen in basic science labs, even ones focused solely on human pathologies. However, I think it also may be the same image that denialists have issues with: instead of doing bacterial cloning, they imagine the Evil Scientists cloning people from discarded fetal tissue to grow a person in a lab (*gasp!*). Instead of doing biochemical assays looking at a transcription factor, they imagine the Evil Scientist genetically engineering a 6-assed monkey (*swoon*) (a thousand pardons for the South Park reference).

    Using Evidence Based Medicine might be more appropriate here: it covers not just basic science but large , well performed, well controlled, (i.e., hypothesis driven, in accordance with the scientific method) clinic studies that find that, say, I don’t know… there’s no link between vaccines and autism? Because truly at its root, Evidence Based medicine is Scientific Medicine. Koch’s postulates were as true as when he laid them out as they are today.

    It must be my own mistaken sense of cleverness but you can imagine medical schools, institutions (NIH, HHMI, CDC), and the lay press using a friendly acronym like EBMD (just like AGW).

  29. #29 MattXIV
    April 14, 2008

    I don’t think this is a very good subsitute for “altie” because their distinguishing characteristic is a positive belief in unsubstantiated claims. It fails to include people who believe that conventional medicine works ok, but that vitamin C, colon cleansing, homeopathy, etc also work but are ignored by mainstream medicine for some reason but would include people who are overly sceptical of mainstream medicine but don’t endorse any alternative medicine modalities (Szasz, for example).

    Once again, I’ll reiterate my criticism that the term “denialism” can easily be used to attempt to shut down legitimate debate.

    All the above techniques are commonly used alone or together in sloppy argumentation for pretty much any position you can think of, even correct ones and ones where there is legitimate controversy. For example, someone who embraces atheism based on theodicity arguments (Argument from Metaphor/violations of informal logic) and cherry-picked quotes from the bible (Selectivity) while demanding proof that the bible is literally true (Impossible Expectations/Moving Goalposts) and claiming that religion is just a tool for controlling the masses (Conspiracy) could accurately be labelled a “God denialist”. (Sorry I couldn’t think of a good Fake Expert for atheism – it doesn’t really require much specialized knowledge to have an opinion on.)

    It’s also a stealth Goodwining of a debate, since most people have primarily heard the term in the phrase Holocaust Denialism.

    Finally, it takes the focus of the debate off of the actual issue being debated and onto the individual participants, since as demonstated above, a “denialist” can be arguing for a legitimate position, so demonstrating someone is a “denialist” does not refute the proposition they’re arguing in favor of, or even the sum of the arguments of that individual when legitimate arguments are bundled with illegitimate ones.

  30. #30 Hank Roberts
    April 14, 2008

    How about “evidence-negative’medicine’”

  31. #31 bob koepp
    April 14, 2008

    Sastra – You say that “the word ‘Creationism’ is today pretty much reserved for the belief that God created things ‘in their original form.’” Who made this reservation? Actually, the form of creationism that Darwin explicitly opposed is called ‘special creationism.’ Accroding to that view, each species was created in its _present_ form.

    But look, even though it would help immensely if people were aware of the varieties of creationism, that wouldn’t help much to legitimate the use of ‘denial’ to label people who’s offense is less one of denying positions that are well-supported by evidence than of affirming positions for which there is a lack of supporting evidence. It strikes me as perversely funny that people who present themselves as champions of critical thinking don’t have a clear grasp of the different dynamics of positive and negative evidence, and even stumble over the difference between ‘not believing x’ and ‘believing not-x’.

  32. #32 peterbr
    April 14, 2008

    I approve. It comes across as less condescending than “altie” or “woo” (and while I think condecension towards such types is often beneficial, it’s not always good, especially if you’re trying to have a more intelligent/respectful debate), but also encompasses all the other kinds of woo. And really, it applies to anyone who supports any kind of woo, because you have to deny science to be able to accept that your favorite woo works, even thought it’s been disproved repeatedly. Plus, it implies a kinship with other kinds of denialism – and I think they are all related in that they represent a mindset unwilling to accept reality if it contradicts their pet beliefs.

  33. #33 Jason S.
    April 14, 2008

    Creationism is a term used to describe someone who thinks there is scientific evidence to compel accepting the view that life or some aspect of it was created by a creator (i.e. God).

    Almost all creationist arguments take the form of an attack on evolution followed by an illicit inference to design, so creationists are evolution denialists.

  34. #34 Jason S.
    April 14, 2008

    The idea that a creator created all life within its present form (allowing for variation within a poorly defined “kind”) is a specific form of creationism known as special creationism.

  35. #35 Ken R.
    April 15, 2008

    “But the term fits for them and it fits for alties who, just as evolutionists concede that “microevolution happens” while denying macroevolution….”

    I think instead of evolutionists here, you meant creationists (or evolution deniers).

  36. #36 fvngvs
    April 15, 2008

    Orac;

    You say “I still can’t believe that germ theory denialists still exist, but they do”

    Not that I dispute this (I’m sure that some still believe in the flat earth). But I must ask; if we ditch the germ theory are we left with the theory of Spontaneous Generation, then?

  37. #37 Joe
    April 15, 2008

    Have you googled “altie”? Just now, Orac was first and second.

  38. #38 Marcus Ranum
    April 15, 2008

    It’s not “labelling” it’s “framing”

  39. #39 Wes
    April 15, 2008

    “Scientific medicine denialism” is a little maladroit, but it could still be useful. Terms like “woo” and “altie” have a mocking tone which is only appropriate for certain contexts. Scientific medicine denialism could be a good term to use in situations which require a little more decorum.

    I like the term “denialism” as a description of tactics (rather than specific content) because the tactics used by many anti-science movements–creationists (sorry bob koepp, deal with it), holocaust deniers, AIDS deniers, global warming deniers, etc–really are very similar, and it’s useful to have a term that can refer to those types of tactics in general.

    But it’s important to keep in mind that “denialism” refers to these tactics, and not to denial in general, so as not to use it too flippantly or carelessly. Calling creationists denialist insofar as they use the tactics MarkH outlined, and avoiding using the term beyond that, should solve the problem bob koepp has with applying the term to creationists. As long as you keep in mind that “denialist” refers to a certain type of tactics, you can logically maintain that creationism very often involves denialism but that does not mean that everyone who believes God created the world is a denialist.

  40. #40 mdhatter
    April 15, 2008

    Orac, you’ve attracted some of the awesomest trolls with this.

    Rock on.

  41. #41 ATG
    April 15, 2008

    So if I’m reading this right the major issue with Orac’s idea is that “scientific medicine denier” doesn’t roll off the tongue quite like we would like to. How about “modern medicine denier”?
    Modern is a bit more nebulous a term, but I think it captures the essence of what we’re trying to point out: that CAM ignores the advances that have come to form the basis of “conventional” medicine. I know when I think of “modern medicine” what I think of is basically science based medicine.
    Besides, I think “modern medicine denier” rolls out quite nicely, if for no other reason than the alliteration. Try saying it out loud once or twice.

  42. #42 Raiseya
    April 15, 2008

    I think a label can make a difference in perception (doesn’t pro-life work much better than anti-abortion?) but using ‘science’ derivatives in your label is problematic. Scientology anyone? The critical component to describe is reproducible and predictable results. If I design a study on any CAM methodology, using practically any evidential outcome besides anecdotal, then it can be called a ‘scientific study’. Bang, now it’s my science versus your science and we both used science didn’t we?

    I guess I’m a scientific human-caused global warming denialist (SHCGWD) since I place more weight on the evidence of past global warming and cooling cycles with no humans present at all than I do on current computer models of our climate. Climatologists can’t predict rain 7 days from now but can predict global temperatures 100 years in the future. While a laudable effort, these models are no more than various hypotheses about cause and effect, and are certainly NOT a reproducible result. As to their predictive properties, the jury is still out IMHO.

    The value of modern medicine lies in its’ ability to reliably predict results—medicine or technique X will reproducibly cause health problem Y to respond favorably in Z percent of afflicted patients in a measurable way. Risk is usually expressible as well.

    There must be 100 competing hypotheses for the origin & evolution of our universe posited by scientists, and probably none of them are spot on.

    Predictive Reproducible Medicine Denialist — kinda long but less subject to the ‘science’ backdoor attack.

  43. #43 Adam Cuerden
    April 16, 2008

    “But the term fits for them and it fits for alties who, just as evolutionists concede that “microevolution happens” while denying macroevolution, concede that scientific medicine is good for things like trauma or appendicitis deny that it is much good for anything else.”

    Surely that should be “creationists” or “evolution denialists”, not “evolutionists”.

  44. #44 Brent
    April 18, 2008

    The term seems to stand up. It would be kind of cool if all the nit-picking stopped and we address the real problem here. All over the world, our next generations are being prevented from even seeing any of the evidence of evolution, much less making a valued judgement on its veracity. I’m in the UK, and used to think that passing laws preventing the teaching of evolution here would never happen, but it’s beginning.

    Let’s stick with the big picture here, ignorance is the problem, and keeping schools away from religion is the only way forward.

    My 2p

    B