Skeptics’ Circle #73: please tick the appropriate boxes

Kitten with caption, Your theory has merit, I submit for peer review

Dear [□ Guru/ □ Bowel-whisperer/ □ MP/ □ Journalist /□ believer of myths about the honey-bee/□ Reader of the People’s Medical Journal],

I know you believe you know a great deal about
[□ nutrition/ □ child rearing / □ scientific research/ □ evolution/ □ other (please specify)] simply because you
[□ eat / □ tsk at other people’s children in the supermarket / □ observed that the glass broke when you filled it with water and froze it / □ watched that You Tube vid about how peanut butter proves Intelligent Design / □ have a mind], or because you’ve read [□ a newspaper article / □ book / □ blog post / □ watched a Faux News feature] about

[□ the lack of nutrients in modern foods because of intensive farming/ □ jeremiads about the death-causing quality of our heavily-criticised eating habits/ □ the vibrational magic of Quantum-Touch/ □ watched Mythbusters while txting friends and updating Facebook / □ heard that Lee Strobel has turned Anthony Flew to theism].
Nonetheless, to quote Cromwell, “I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken”. For instance, the field isn’t all about

[□ supplements and magical megadoses/ □ quoting Super Nanny / □ things that go fizz or bang/ □ demanding people explain the existence of the dandelion or B2 bomber].

People practising in the field spend a disproportionate amount of their lives keeping careful case notes of clinical cases, reading articles, expanding their basic knowledge, and acquiring a deeper understanding of [□ nutrition and physiology / □ child psychology and family dynamics / □ statistics, experimental design, the placebo and trial effect and the ethics of research/ □ biology].

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion but not their own facts; this does not mean that you can’t have an opinion until you’ve

[□ racked up 100 papers indexed on PubMed / □ founded your own educational/belief system / □ been appointed to the Review Board of the top 10 journals in your field / □ spent decades hunting fossils]
―in fact, most of the people in these fields have never done that. But, occasionally, they’d appreciate it if you

[□ refreshing your critical thinking skills / □ researching the issue a little further with acknowledged resources/ □ taking a introductory class to the field / □ extending your knowledge of statistics]
so that you have a basic understanding of what is plausible in the field, before you confidently proclaim

[□ scientists are pointy-heads / □ supplements should be compulsory / □ all children need is love/discipline / □ Big Farmer is destroying our food and making us ill so that we need Big Pharma / □ statins are an abomination and should only be administered with CoQ10 / □ scientists derive their income from devising treatments for cancer not cancer prevention/ □ any fule know ill children are better off with natural remedies than nasty drugs / MMR causes autism alongside mercury , wheat, dairy and cupcakes / □ anything else, really].

Thank you for the courtesy of your attention. See you in [□ the supermarket/ □ the PTA meeting / □ lab class / □ Science Museum / □ the next edition of Skeptics’ Circle].

[□ __________(your name here)__________]

Past issues of the Skeptics’ Circle are available from the archive. The next Circle will be at medjournalwatch – so get blogging :)

H/T to eternally stressed semanticist’s Open Letter for theme.



Filed under patrick holford, sceptic's circle

4 responses to “Skeptics’ Circle #73: please tick the appropriate boxes

  1. Thanks for the link guys, even if I was too inept to submit it myself.


  2. Pingback: Top Posts «

  3. Pingback: Sceptics’ circle #73–multiple choice « WhiteCoat Underground

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