10 October 2011

Alt-med woo peddlers aren’t happy that their bullshit is being exposed

The James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) has an article on their website about the frustration of ‘alternative’ medicine woomongers in the UK over having their lies and misinformation being exposed by skeptics, with help from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). Looks like the alt-med crowd is feeling the impact of awareness-raising campaigns run by skeptic activists; alt-med’s often baseless claims regarding the efficacy of its treatments and products are being publicly challenged, and independent regulators like the ASA are lending their muscle to the skeptic cause.

Referring to real doctors and skeptics, this statement from the pro-alt-med website ASA Sucks (how mature) clearly indicates alt-med’s disdain for scientific rigour in determining the efficacy of medical treatments:

Their reason for hating complementary medicine is based on the ill-founded belief that double blind placebo based trials are good science.

Far from being an “ill-founded belief”, double blind placebo trials are essential to prevent subject and tester bias from compromising the objectivity of the trial. Using this method is definitely a sign that good science is being done. Alt-med folks understandably dislike double blind placebo trials because they all too often produce results that do not confirm alt-med claims. Since they are emotionally invested in their anti-conventional medicine ideology, alt-med folks blame the double blind placebo method for the failure of their ‘theories’, rather than the inherent flaws of their ideology.

Concerning the ASA Sucks website, Tim Farley, who wrote the JREF article, makes the following observations:

In a pattern we’ve seen before, the complaint site does not stick to factual debate, but delves deep into logical fallacies, conspiracy theory thinking and other canards. It makes rude comments about Simon Singh and others, but somehow manages to miss the fact (clearly published on the [skeptic organisation] Nightingale Collaboration website) that the group is actually run by [Alan] Henness and [Maria] MacLachlan.

Meanwhile the complaint site itself was registered anonymously Monday through a U.S. company and is hosted on servers in Malaysia. None of the text on the site is signed, there’s no indication of who is behind this effort. Whoever is behind it is not only angry, but anxious to not be publicly known. (Compare this with the skeptics, who are very open about what they are doing, and even have posted a code of conduct).

The people behind ASA Sucks can’t be very convinced of the righteousness of their cause if they haven’t got the integrity to back up their accusations with their names.

In the immortal words of Tim Minchin:

Do you know what they call “alternative medicine” that’s been proved to work? Medicine.


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