The Biggest Problem With Alternative Medicine

If you’ve known me for any length of time you know I have no tolerance for quackery and lies. But my biggest problem with homeopathy, astrology, reiki, psychics, “healers,” et al. is not the lies and thievery. My problem isn’t even that a lot of these beliefs can actively cause you and your loved ones harm.

My problem is that smart people waste their time debunking the quackery, thereby taking time away from doing work that could further society. We know data doesn’t often work to convince people of something they don’t already agree with — and may even make people dig their heels in further on false beliefs — so it’s mostly all for naught.

If, for example, you have the patently wrong belief that vaccines cause autism or other medical issues then the data isn’t going to change your mind. You already know the data. But you listen to Jenny McCarthy. Sadly, my pointing this out is likely causing you to stick to your beliefs more strongly.

And so it goes as more people waste time trying to save you from yourself.


If you’re interested in inoculating yourself against irrational thinking I give my strongest recommendation to Your Deceptive Mind by Dr. Steven Novella:

I have listened to this 24-part lecture nearly 5 times since late 2014. I thought I was a decent critical thinker, but I had and still have a lot to learn. Your Deceptive Mind has helped me become more empathetic towards, as well as more vigilant against, quacks of all types.

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