Thursday, May 3, 2007

Defending Science

Dr. Steven Novella over at Neurologica Blog and Orac have excellent posts regarding a recent editorial in Nature Nueroscience. The discussion revolves around how important it is for scientists to defend science in the face of a sometimes withering assault by anti-science frauds, denialists, conspiratorialists, and general inane irrationality. Dr. Novella notes:

"The editorial, echoed by Orac, and now by me, calls for the scientific community to stand tall. We need to unite under the banner of science and reason, to affirm that modern medicine is an applied science, that good medicine follows the best evidence available and relies upon valid logic.

I will also extend the call to all of so-called complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). CAM is nothing less than an assault on the scientific underpinnings of modern medicine. It is an eclectic collection of anti-scientific ideology, new age nonsense, bad science, and discarded notions. It survives by political intimidation, the ad-populi logical fallacy, a misapplication of multi-culturalism and “open mindedness”, anti-establishment sentiment, misplaced appeals to freedom, fraud, cons, slick marketing, wishful thinking, scientific illiteracy, and blatant anti-science. The goal of CAM advocates is to create a double standard within medicine – a standard for them in which all of the quality control of evidence, academic and intellectual honesty, and even basic common sense do not apply.

The medical community has been shamefully silent, sitting on the sidelines while their own profession is ransacked by barbarians. The beginning of a backlash is stirring, but it’s too little and too late. The damage to the credibility and scientific integrity of mainstream medicine will be significant and long term."

The stakes couldn't be higher as many of these groups whether they know it or not, pretend to dismantle the only framework which has actually proved an effective means of true discovery; namely the scientific method and evidence based practices.

What alternatives are offered? So far, I can find nothing in the plethora of fluctuating claims, and hard to pin down assertions that remotely offer a productive answer. All I see is the gaping hole of medical anarchy with all of its associated pain and suffering (you think its bad now).

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