Homeopathy – more tricks of the trade
The previous post is a look at the more quirky side of homeopathy, and the use of techno-babble to gain some legitimacy.
But there are other methods – the illusion of academic work, for example.
Practices such as homeopathy are continually pumped up in a range of media, and real scientists have to spend their time pointing out the errors, fallacies and outright deception being employed by the proponents of this and other therapies. (Homeopathy is not alone, it’s just a damn good example – it sets the standard really).
See here for a good example of obfuscation by the illusion of academia. Steve Novella expertly demolishes a piece in the the Huffington Post, an online newspaper with a proclivity for promoting wackiness.
The real issue here is that proponents of unproven and/or dangerous therapies keep spouting nonsense, and cloaking the argument – this time for example, in academic speak – with lots of important looking referencing. They count on the fact that very few people will bother to follow up the references; rather, they will be impressed by this very academic-looking work, and ignore the substance.
Steve shows that when the references are followed, they generally do not support the case being made, and, despite all the fancy-schmancy academic presentation there is STILL NO EVIDENCE of efficacy beyond the placebo effect.
The lesson for us all is to not be taken in by presentation – ask the questions about the substance of the claim (and claims about the substance, for that matter!), rather than being impressed by lab coats, impressive sounding words, academic-looking writing, and mountains of testimonials.