In my previous post, I had outlined some basic methods to distinguish good medicine from barking mad therapies. In this post, let’s dig deeper to see how the tricksters abuse science to confound lay-people.
Chain of Evidence
First, I have to debunk some ill-conceived notions about science & formal medicine. Science does not dismiss unproven healing methods, ideas or experiences right away. It systematically looks for evidence in an unbiased manner – and then, based on the outcome, chooses to support (or oppose) the proposed idea. Most importantly, it also tries to reproduce the reported success of the healing method – after understanding the conditions under which it manifests itself.
Science is not just based on experiments & personal observation. Several scientists have predicted outcomes thru Math, theories & repeating patterns – well before any evidence could be found. Mendeleev predicted the characteristics of several elements before they were discovered. Einstein dreamed up his Theories of Relativity first, proved it next. It was possible for him to do that because – he knew all the facts & principles leading to it.
Which brings us to “Chain of Evidence”, one of the corner-stones of science. Every new earth-shaking theory is like a chain of concepts, proven data points or experiments. For the final link in the chain (i.e., the new theory) to be correct, every link in the chain should be correct. How can we ensure that every chain in our reasoning is correct? By relying on scientific methods.
Quacks shouldn’t be taken seriously because – They are unable prove any/most of the links in their thinking. Their basic premises veer far from scientifically accepted principles. It is no surprise then that their theories are heckled by established scientific institutions the world over. They only seem to succeed in the public domain because – the general populace has very little knowledge on science. This means the charlatans have a field day & continue their vaudeville act.
Science is “Too Narrow”
I have a problem with squawking popinjays that claim their pet theories are 100% scientific, but when pressed for proof – throw a hissy fit, accuse everyone of being narrow minded & start ranting about how science is useless to understand the nuances in life. They may also say that science hasn’t “caught up” with them. Possibly & I hope it never does.
This double-speak gives me conniption fits. I just wish they’ll answer some simple questions, so that I can stop the woozy feeling in my head.
1. Folks – Your claims are either scientific or not. Make up your mind. Which is it?
2. If you think science is inadequate to explain your technique, why do you use scientific terms to explain it?
3. If you truly believe in what you say – Why do you resist all attempts by the scientific community to independently theorize, conceptualize, measure or analyze your claims & report findings?
4. If you think science is ill equipped to prove the veracity of you claims – How in the blazes did you conclude that your claims are scientific in the 1st place?
And finally – Narrating one anecdote after another is called “hearsay” – its not the same as providing verifiable supporting evidence.
Appeal to Authority
Since most people are not savvy about science, quacks get their attention easily by invoking the names of authority figures. Check if they make references to Tesla, Bohr, Farraday or other dead scientists – who can’t even whimper their protests from their grave. Such “Dead Scientists Societies” are very useful, since even lay-people know their names.
Like most crooks, quacks are getting smarter & smarter. Sadly, the same can’t be said about their victims. Tricksters usually play “Star Trek” by “cloaking” their shlock in scientific jargon like “Energy Fields”, “Molecular Clusters” & “Quantum Vibrations”. They’ll explain all these concepts admirably, but fail to explain scientifically how any of them have a bearing on the pseudo-scientific geegaw that they are selling. By juxtaposing their ideas with valid science, these nutters hope that a smidgen of the respect you have for physics will rub off on the sleaze that they are selling. They also hope fervently that this new-found respect will make you swallow all your questions & start believing them.
Excusez moi, but me thinks that it stinks 😉
Let me illustrate with some scintillating giberish that I’ve encountered. “During healing, the brain wave patterns of practitioner and receiver pulse in unison with the earth’s magnetic field, known as the Schumann Resonance. During these moments, the biomagnetic field of the practitioners’ hands is at least 1000 times greater than normal, and not as a result of internal body current”. Well, that’s illuminating 🙂
Let me clutch my sides for a sec – I’m laughing so hard they are about to fall off. First of all, Schumann Resonance is “Electromagnetic” – not just “Magentic”: the berks can’t spell “Electromagnetic” yet?? 😀 Second, its a standing-wave that will manifest itself only when a lightning strike excites the cavity between the atmosphere & the earth’s crust. Third, its not some magical energy field that can be “channelized” by people – unless you want to get hit by a lightning & join the party. And lastly, maybe I’ve missed it – did you catch them providing any evidence on their healing method’s mystical connection with Schumann resonance? Other than hearsay?
See what I mean? They’ve successfully distracted people, but they still haven’t proved a thing. They invoked Winfried Schumann, just like our ancestors invoked Mitra, Indra, Dagon or Zeus – to dissuade others from bothering them. They keep lives interesting for skeptics though 🙂
We are Too Stupid
When all else fails, they attack the arguer. This is a logical fallacy called Ad Hominem – Attacking the arguer instead of the argument. As in, they may blame us for being too stupid or too rigid to understand them & the possibilities they weave out of their imaginations.
An acquaintance once told me – “You know, I can heal people over the phone! The scientific (!) principle of Remote Healing relies on both me & the patient having access to the universal energy waves around us”. I sighed – life is indeed trying for a skeptic. I asked him – “No kidding? You can send healing signals pulsating over ether?”. He didn’t see what was coming, so he proudly puffed himself up & said “Yes!”.
I asked him calmly “If that’s true, why don’t you beam your magic pulses to Africa & cure all AIDS victims?”. He went pale & made some inconsequential noises about how Africans should want to get healed first. Nonsense – As if AIDS victims love the company of the HIV virus & can’t bear to be parted from it! I snorted & nearly said “Bollocks!” – but feigned a polite silence. He was already “Checkmated with Candles & Balloons” – as my brother used to say. Well, he also blew raspberries whenever he said that – He was a rare one for capturing the gravity of a situation 😆
Forewarned is Forearmed! My love for debunking runs deep. I may post a follow-up to this post.