Pharyngula

I’ve never heard of Alex Beam before, which is a good thing — he seems to be some kind of journalist at the Boston Globe, and that’s about all I know about him, other than that he seems to be an oblivious idiot. He has a column up in which he rages about the phrase “knowledge-based”, apparently because he doesn’t understand it. His first target is to fulminate against that expression, “reality based”, which many on the left adopted after the lunacy of the Bush presidency, a phrase invented by the Bushies to describe us:

The aide said that guys like me were “in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” … “That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality–judiciously, as you will–we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

Beam doesn’t understand this. His rebuttal registers complete incomprehension.

The Bush presidency always seemed quite fact-freighted to me. The 9/11 attacks were plenty factual, as were the subsequent invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and the tens of thousands of deaths that ensued.

Yes. People died on 9/11; that’s real. Even more people died in Afghanistan and Iraq; that’s also real. What Beam glosses over is that there was no credible connection between those two countries and the deaths in New York, and that the Right failed to “create” their own personal, private reality.

A reality-based community would suggest that when you’re attacked, you should respond by evaluating the causes and retaliate appropriately, rather than deciding that here’s a fine time to build an empire. I don’t think that’s so hard to understand.

Then he throws another random example at us.

What in heaven’s name, for instance, is “evidence-based medicine”? Here is a quote from the august British Medical Journal that should set us straight: “Evidence-based medicine is the conscientious, explicit and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of individual patients.” And the opposite of this would be … divination? Are men and women trooping out of the nation’s medical schools trained to flip coins or toss the I Ching on the floor of the intensive care unit if a diagnosis isn’t quickly forthcoming?

Deepak Chopra. Oprah Winfrey. The Center for Spirituality and Healing. Homeopathy. Acupuncture. Reflexology. Iridology. Dr Oz. Anti-vaccination movements. Therapeutic Touch.

Yes, some of them are coming out of our med schools, most are pouring out over the television and radio — we have swarms of men and women peddling non-evidence-based medicine, utter, non-functional, untested, useless garbage at sick people. There clearly are a great many quacks pushing fake remedies that ignore and even contradict the evidence.

Alex Beam must live inside a windowless Faraday cage to be unaware of the realities that are being flouted every day. And he really calls himself a journalist? He does conclude with an ironic comment.

Knowledge-based journalism? Good grief. If that catches on, people like me will be out of a job.

We can always hope.