Debating with alternative medicine apologists can sometimes be a tedious affair.
It appears that some of these apologists do not appear to be interested in a frank and honest discussion of the issue at hand, but rather many insist on focusing on an almost reflexive and hermetic defense of their “pet” position. These
The following list just touches on some recent problems with the arguments of many CAM supporters I’ve noted that muffles effective communication and blunts open discussion (a more thorough examination of these arguments would likely uncover a host of even more fallacious reasoning):
1) A priori assumptions. This is taking the whole scientific process of observing phenomena to then eventually formulating a hypothesis about it and turning it on its head. Placing a conclusion first, then attempting to gather data that supports this view brushes away objectivity and completely disconnects the observer from reality. This is a recipe for creating a belief system and allows for abstractions far removed from what actually occurs. This approach reveals a deeper level of inflexible conviction that permeates their argument, crystallizes these beliefs, and makes them impervious to self doubt and critical analysis.
2) Mioptic views. Many
3) Vomiting data. This approach seems to be a favorite among many of the nutritional supplement apologists. You will suddenly be confronted with what appear to be reams of cold hard data supporting one pet theory, belief, or whatever. On closer scrutiny one finds that these studies or other data sources are cherry picked from a much larger body of evidence that –on its whole- is either inconclusive or actually argue against the CAM topic at hand. They are often obscure in detail or discuss a tangentially related topic and do not support the argument at hand. At times these sources are very old documents and disconnected from present day scientific activity (it is not uncommon to find no mention of them on PUBMED or any other scientific data bases).
4) Because of this/therefore that (confusing correlation and causation). Many
5) Repeating the same claim. This is an argument of repetition, where a
6) Lack of knowledge in the scientific method and critical thinking. This is a common thread throughout many
7) Testimonials and emotional reasoning. This is a big one. It relates to not having a solid grasp on how probability and statistics "behaves". This reflects a lack of knowledge with respect to how real nature works. Appealing to these personal stories is the bread and butter of innumerable
8) Conspiracy theories. Claims of “the man”, big pharma, or some other ominous entity overseeing and buying off whole sectors of society are a favorite staple of many
9) Ad hominem. When in doubt attempt to destroy the messenger. Though tired and repetitive, this is another reflexive reaction against those critically probing a