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Complementary and alternative medicine Evolution Intelligent design/creationism Medicine Pseudoscience Quackery Science Skepticism/critical thinking

The more things change…

John is sick and tired of antievolutionists. Who can blame him? As he points out, they are utterly immune to evidence or reason:

I was wrong. Very wrong. Information isn’t what makes people change their minds. Experience is, and generally nobody has much experience of the facts of biology that underwrite evolution. The so-called “deficit model” of the public understanding of science, which assumes that all they need is more information, is false.


I could also point out that this is the very reason that alternative medicine to this day so regularly trumps scientific, evidence-based medicine in popularity. Few people have experienced a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. To them it sounds like so much gobbledy-gook. But the do know that either they or their mom or their friend (or the dreaded “friend of a friend”) took this or that homeopathic remedy and felt better. Or they do know that they or their mom or their friend (or the dreaded “friend of a friend”) had a horrendous experience with a medicine or treatment that their doctor prescribed. Experience trumps science.

How to overcome this natural human tendency is something I’ve been wrestling with ever since I took an interest in alternative medicine and quackery and why both are so attractive to so many people. I don’t have a very good answer yet, but I plan on continuing to try to find one.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

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